Garrett McFadden Named OHL Humanitarian of the Year

Section: 
Sports

By Josh Howald

The awards keep rolling in for Garrett McFadden. And while he should be proud of all his hardware, his latest honour is one this whole community can take pride in.

Garrett McFadden will be speaking at the Kincardine Public Library June 11 at 2 p.m. (Independent file photo/Josh Howald)

 

Last Wednesday, the Ontario Hockey League announced McFadden would be the recipient of the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the OHL's Humanitarian of the Year.

"Obviously it's a big honour," said the 19-year-old Sunday night.

"The support from everyone has been amazing, and there has been an endless number of people reaching out to help, and to make things easier for me."

The Guelph Storm's captain and most valuable player launched "McFadden's Movement" last September, just prior to the start of the OHL's regular season. McFadden's Movement is a mental health campaign that strives to change, help and develop mental health among athletes.

Each year the OHL awards a player who has demonstrated outstanding qualities as a positive role model in the community with the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy. Originally simply called the Humanitarian of the Year Award, the OHL changed the name to honour Snyder - a former captain of the Owen Sound Platers who was twice named the team's Humanitarian of the Year - in 2004.

McFadden is to accept the trophy at the 2017 OHL Awards Ceremony June 8 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He is also the OHL's nominee for Humanitarian of the Year at the annual CHL Awards, which will be presented at the Memorial Cup in Windsor on May 27.

So what is McFadden's Movement?

It's a tribute to a teammate with the Grey-Bruce AAA Highlanders, Wes Cameron, who took his own life in 2011. McFadden hosted 15 different minor hockey teams and visited schools to highlight the pressure of sport and the importance of talking about mental health and eliminating the stigma. McFadden's Movement was designed and launched in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association with presentations paired with CMHA professionals and McFadden's own SafeTalk training through the league's Talk Today initiative. It also included a strong awareness campaign through social media, the sale and distribution of more than 1,500 wristbands for mental health resources supporting Wes For Youth Online - a free online counselling service created in Cameron's memory.

"From the beginning, I knew it was going to be a lot of work and would consume a lot of time, but I think knowing I'm able to make a difference to young kids, to be able to make their lives easier, matters a lot more."

"I was lucky to have great people helping me out, and I really couldn't have done it without all the help," said McFadden.

The Storm, who took McFadden with their first choice in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection, are certainly proud of their captain.

"It's been remarkable to watch (Garrett) become such an incredible leader in the conversation surrounding mental health, and in the community overall," said Storm Governor Rick Gaetz.

"(He) is one of the most genuine and humble individuals anyone would have the pleasure to come across, and this is more than evident in everything he does."

He led the Storm's Champions for Education program visiting schools up to three times each week, and also represented the team as a Booster Juice Ambassador practising regularly with local minor hockey teams. The University of Guelph student was also a recipient of the Be the Change Award presented by the school's Student Life Association.

This weekend, McFadden is hosting a street hockey tournament in Guelph. On June 11, he will be at the Kincardine Public Library. Admission is free to hear him speak at 2 p.m.

"It's open to anyone and everyone who wants to come out," he said. "It should be a great event to raise some awareness and be able to share my story and what I'm doing at the local level."

For more information on McFadden's Movement, follow on twitter@McFaddensMvmnt or visit www.mcfaddensmovement.com.


Please edit the article

Congratulations to Garrett on being named the Humanitarian of the Year! The number of young people losing their lives to suicide is tragic. Your article uses the term "committed suicide" - this term implies a crime. Mental health professionals, as well as families who have lost loved ones to suicide are trying to change the language. Is it possible to edit the article to say something like, "took his own life"? Thank you.