Christmas Magic



Christmas Magic and A Boy Named Dylan

Chris Locke

Last week, Christmas Magic came to Sean’s House via a 5th grader from St. John the Beloved named Dylan.

Dylan had an idea this Christmas season, he wanted to be a Santa to someone this year. He wanted to show his generosity just like Santa does to all the little children around the world. Dylan decided that he wanted to be Santa to Sean’s House this year.

I had the pleasure and honor to greet Dylan at Sean’s House last Thursday. He was waiting there with his Mom, wearing his UD sweatshirt. He was a little nervous at first, as was I. As all of us are a little nervous, when you meet a new person for the first time.

But just like the story “T’was the Night Before Christmas”, I knew I had nothing to worry. Dylan had a twinkle in his eye and a smile so nice, I knew in a moment that the Magic of Christmas was all around us.

Dylan, like Santa, brought gifts to Sean’s House. Each of his gifts had a special meaning.

He brought a Christmas ornament of a basketball and a Santa hat to hang on our tree. It reminded me of Sean and his love of wearing Santa’s hat during the Christmas season. The ornament will always hang on Sean’s House tree, front and center because on the reverse side it says, “Dylan 2020”. Dylan also brought us a soap dispenser shaped in a basketball, so that we may clean our hands from the days hard work.

Dylan also gave us little candles with lights to put in the windows at Sean’s House, so that people can see the light and let the light help lead the way for people to get the help they need at Sean’s House.

Dylan donated $136.00 which represents the address at Sean’s House, 136 West Main Street. When I asked Dylan, how he raised this money. His response brought me to tears. He said, “I didn’t raise it, this is my Birthday money and I want you to have it to help people”.

Lastly, Dylan brought beautiful new comfy blankets that we can give to our guests. With each blanket, a handwritten note from Dylan, with a simple but eloquent message,

“You are Loved.”

THAT IS CHRISTMAS MAGIC!!!!

Christmas is all about love. God loved us so much that he gave us his only begotten son on Christmas morning.

2020 has been a very unusual year. Most of us are looking forward to seeing this year come to an end. I must admit, I was not feeling a lot of Christmas spirit this year. That is, until I met a boy named Dylan. This ten-year-old boy brought the magic of Christmas back to me this year. He represents all that is great about Christmas; Hope, Faith and Love.

This Christmas I hope each of you feel the warmth of the hugs of your family, like Dylan’s warm blankets. And always remember:

“YOU ARE LOVED.”

Merry Christmas and God Bless,

Chris Locke

SL24

SL24 Board Members


SL24 Board Members

Carl Georigi

Carl joined the board because he wanted to help erase the stigma of mental illness and start the process of saving lives by raising awareness, generating dialogue and finding solutions to all phases of mental illness, depression and suicide. He said “when Chris asked me to be on the board, it was an immediate yes!” Carl writes, “seeing the impact we are having on our youth, our schools, our sports teams and our community brings me light. The day we open Sean’s House will be the greatest day of all.”

Carl Georigi

Founder/CEO Platinum Dining Group
Cyndi McLaughlin

Cyndi works full-time as a Business Administrator in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at UD. She is a lifelong Delawarean who is passionate about mental health because her family has been personally affected by suicide. She writes that, “while national change is important prevention work, my goal was to become engaged with an organization making a significant and sustainable impact in Delaware. SL24 is making that impact.”

Cyndi McLaughlin

University of Delaware Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Business Administer
Thomas J. Hanna “TJ”

TJ works primarily in commercial/industrial real estate but having known Chris Locke for many years, he jumped at the invitation to join SL24. TJ writes, “I am a father of three boys. I’m also a member of the Delaware Community. While deeply saddened by the circumstances surrounding the launch of the SL24, I’m inspired by the Locke family, and I am energized to help change lives in honor of Sean Locke.”

Thomas J. Hanna “TJ”

President of Harvey, Hanna, & Associates, Inc.
Kat Locke-Jones

Kat Locke is a Baltimore City Public School Model teacher who is lucky enough to spend her days teaching 7th grade English and Social Studies. The oldest of the Locke siblings. Kat writes, “I hope to make my little brother, Sean, proud by making sure his light continues to shine. I am passionate about supporting and assisting Delaware students.”

Kat Locke-Jones

Baltimore City Public School Teacher
Steve Wheat

Steve Wheat is the owner of High 5 Hospitality, owning and operating 11 restaurants in Delaware that include Buffalo Wild Wings, Stone Balloon, Limestone BBQ and Bourbon, and Eggspectations. With regards to his inspiration for joining the board, he writes “I have known the Locke family since 2005 and was honored to assist in the SL24 initiative. I got involved because I know our efforts can help bring awareness, break the stigma of depression, and ultimately save lives.”

Steve Wheat

Owner of High 5 Hospitality
Steven Hyde

Steve is the President of HFM Investment Advisors and chairman of the board of St. Mark’s high school. With regards to his motivation for joining the SL24 team, he writes, “I got involved with SL 24 through my friendship with Chris, but I have been involved in CYO sports for over 20 years so I was aware of the issues that young people face when it comes to depression. SL24 addresses a huge need in our society when it comes to our children.”

Steven Hyde

President of HFM Investment Advisors
Allison Short

Allison’s spends her time as a Registered Nurse in the Operating Room at Christiana Hospital. She joined the foundation because she was a close friend of Sean’s and was inspired to take action in his memory. She writes, “through the passing of my friend, Sean, I knew I wanted to do more to help others who may be struggling with their mental health. One of the many areas that bring me light regarding the foundation is seeing the impact SL24 school presentations have made on students in our community.”

Allison Short

Christiana Care Operating Room Nurse
William A. Bathon

William’s inspiration for being involved in SL24 occurred several years ago, when personal tragedy struck his family. He writes, “I witnessed first-hand how devastating suicide is to the surviving members of those that suffered. Mental illness is a growing medical issue that can affect those of all types. I believe that the strongest we can ever be, is when we are asking for help. The goal of SL24 speaks to opening up lines of communication and being an avenue of connection for those that are suffering. This is truly a special organization.”

William A. Bathon

Vice President of Bay Country Landscape
Emma Grey

Emma was asked to join the board in order to provide the mental health resources that a health care professional can contribute to the foundation. She writes that “what is most humbling about this experience is traveling to schools to speak with students and parents about my relationship with Sean and our time together throughout high school and college. Sharing his story has impacted so many young students in ways I never imagined. I look forward to continuing to share his story in the hopes that it reaches anyone looking for help or support.”

Emma Grey

Registered Nurse at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Kevin Healy

Kevin’s motivation for joining the board was a personal one. He writes, “watching Sean grow up I assumed all was right in his world. Sean’s experience made me realize how important it is for those suffering with depression and/or other mental health issues, to feel safe about sharing what burdens them with family, friends and professionals.”

Kevin Healy

Attorney for Morris James LLP
Michele Whetzel

Michele spends her time engaged in improving the Delaware community. She is the President of the Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation, a business consultant with the Detwiler Group, and serves on the Delaware Public Integrity Commission and the Aster Wellness Foundation board. Her motivation for joining the board is that Chris Locke has been a close friend since high school. She writes, “my heart ached for him and his family when they lost Sean, and I was inspired by the way they chose to help others and serve the public in Sean’s memory. I have a lot of nonprofit board experience, so I chose to share my knowledge and skills with this very worthwhile endeavor.”

Michele Whetzel

President of Revise, LLC
Trevor Cooney

Trevor was a close friend of Sean and knowing him is what inspired him to be involved with the SL24 Foundation. Trevor writes, “it hurts to have known him and not realize what he was going through, and if it can happen to him it can happen to anyone. That’s why it is so important to get the right information out and to end the stigma that surrounds mental health. Everyone needs to know it is okay to have these thoughts and feelings and if you are struggling and need help please reach out for him, because it can save lives.”

Trevor Cooney

Director of Events and Programs BPG Sports at the 76ers Field House
Michael Igo

Michael is a Commercial Banker for WSFS Bank. He got involved in the SL24 Foundation to help carry on the legacy of Sean Locke, one of his dearest friends. He writes, “I am excited for Sean’s House to open at 136 West Main Street and to see the impact it has on the community. 136 West Main Street will forever be a reminder of our friendship and the many good times we enjoyed together in college.”

Michael Igo

Commercial Banker for WSFS Bank
Barnett Harris

Barnett is a third year at Georgetown Law. Barnett was inspired to get involved with the organization in part from playing with Sean on the UD Men’s Basketball team for three years. The other part came from when Sean’s dad explained the mission of the group to him. Barnett writes, “I was immediately drawn to get involved and help anyway I can. The idea of helping young people talk about a topic that is of such importance and can change their outlook on life is what brings me light with the work we are doing.”

Barnett Harris

Georgetown Law Student
Chris Locke

Chris Locke is a General Counsel/Sr.VP Lang Development Group “Sean was the least likely person you would expect to be suffering from depression. The tragedy of losing my son Sean, has shown me that mental illness and specifically depression is an indiscriminate disease. We must do everything possible to remove the stigma of mental illness by educating, assisting and supporting those with mental illness so people like Sean do not suffer in silence anymore.”

Chris Locke

General Counsel/Sr.VP Lang Development Group
Jeff Lang

Jeff Lang is a real estate developer working for Lang Development Group in Newark, Delaware. He was inspired to join the board because of his close relationship with the Locke family over the years. Jeff writes, “I was directly involved with Sean’s passing being at the site within hours of the event and have known Sean since he was a little boy. We shared many many great memories together and mourn his death like family, so I am motivated to help the SL24 cause in any way I can and look forward to helping others that are struggling with his same terrible disease.”

Jeff Lang

Real Estate Developer for Lang Development Group
Jack Markell

Jack Markell served as Delaware’s Governor from 2009-2017. Jack writes, “I’m inspired by how the Locke Family has been able to turn their own personal tragedy into something that’s so positive for others.”

Jack Markell

Delaware’s Governor 2009-2017
David Bowes

David is a political operative originally from Washington D.C., and a recent newcomer to Delaware. With regards to his motivation for joining the board, he writes, “I know that suicide is preventable, and I am passionate about fostering honest, open conversations to reduce the stigmas around mental health challenges in our culture. The simple fact is, it is okay not to be okay, but we have to make sure we are creating the space for people to be honest and get the help they need. We can and must do better, and SL24 is making a tremendous difference.”

David Bowes

Political Operator
Martha Cunningham

I presently am a Nurse Technology Instructor at St. Georges Technical High School. Martha has experience caring for young adults after failed suicide attempts. She writes, “I am proud to say that St. Georges is the first school to adopt the SL24 student group and is serving as a model for other schools.”

Martha Cunningham

Nurse Technology Instructor

How Did This Happen?



How Did This Happen?

Scott Day

**Trigger Warning**

This piece discusses suicide and suicidal ideation, and some people might find it disturbing. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please, contact your physician, go to your local ER, or call the suicide prevention hotline in your country. For the United States, the numbers are as follows:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), or message the Crisis Text Line at 741741. Both programs provide free, confidential support 24/7

How did that happen?

That’s a question that I’ve asked myself many times over the past two years or so. It’s a question that many people ask, but not many know the answer to.

To understand where that question stirs from, I’ll have to tell you a little bit about my story.

It was March of 2018; I was sitting on an Amtrak train heading back to be with my wife and three kids back in Richmond. I was three months into my job as the Assistant AD for PR and Communications at the University of Delaware after spending the previous 13+ years in the city of Richmond. For the first six months, I traveled back and forth on every open weekend to see my wife and kids, who were finishing up the school year before joining me in Delaware, the home state of both my wife and I.

As I sat on the train, I made a decision to open up and tell my story of what had happened to me over the past five years. A very small handful knew some of the struggles I had faced, but no one knew the depths of my battle with depression. So, I turned to what I had always done, I wrote out my feelings.

I won’t tell the whole story again, but if anyone is interested, here’s the full link.

I tell that background because that became my outlet to finally be open about what I had been through and still was facing. I was back home in my home state and I was facing an opportunity to reset my life in almost every facet.

Over the course of the next two-plus years, I became so much more mindful of my daily emotions and feelings. I became much more routine oriented. I put my health, both physical and mental, at the top of my priority list, alongside my faith.

One of those routines was a morning walk that I try to do 4-5 times a week starting at 5:30 and goes for about two hours. And that’s when the question comes up…. “How did that happen?”

You see, I grew up in the suburbs, my parents worked their tails off to provide for my two brothers and I, I was very involved at my church growing up, my daily struggles weren’t anything compared to some of what my teammates or classmates faced throughout my high school or college career. I went on to play college baseball and was always surrounded by friends and family. I married my high school sweetheart and at the age of 26 was the youngest Division I communications director in the country.

So I have found myself asking, how did that happen?

How did I end up sitting in a garage holding a rope and standing next to a ladder? How did I find myself staring off the bridge into the James River in Richmond? How did I end up there?

You see, depression and mental health affects EVERYONE. It doesn’t matter what color, gender, occupation, age, background or faith you are. It hits everyone. You know the old cliché saying of “you never know what someone’s going through”, that’s not cliché. It’s reality.

I’ve had so many people, former colleagues, close friends, and others, whom I spent a lot of time with say to me, “I had no idea you were going through that”. I’m a pretty open individual, I don’t hide my feelings or emotions well, but I did in my darkest moments. Imagine those individuals who aren’t comfortable being open with their thoughts and emotions, imagine how they feel. That’s why it’s so crucial to be REAL and show people you care through your actions, not just your words. Even if it’s not an in-depth conversation, maybe a friend just needs someone to be in the same room as them.

Each and every person who have struggled with their mental health journey has a different path and a different story. There’s no clear cut, concrete answer for every single person. There’s no answer on Wikipedia or Google. Hell, even Amazon doesn’t have a solution for this one. The only solution I know is the support of incredible doctors, family, friends and a faithful God.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have several days where I get upset with myself for not being tougher or not being stronger to avoid putting myself, my family and my friends what I put them through. But I also know that I was put through those struggles because it has allowed me to impact others in a way I couldn’t have even imagined.

For much of my career, I’ve dedicated my daily occupation to impacting the lives of thousands of student-athletes at four different institutions through my work in communications, whether that be social media or a website or telling their story to the media. That’s what I had focused everything on.

A month ago, that all changed when my job was eliminated at Delaware. So, I was faced with another challenge. And because of the support system that has surrounded me since I opened up with my story, I know that another chapter of my book is coming and it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

I don’t know what’s next just yet, but I do know that I will continue to use my story and my voice to be a mental health advocate.

Throughout my life, I had several people close to me succumb to their battle with mental health and depression. I’ve seen the pain that suicide has caused and is causing at an increasingly alarming rate, so my hope is that my story can try and help others from having to look back and answer the question, “How did that happen?”