The Full Picture

The Full Picture

Barnett Harris

I was reminded recently of the first time I told one of my teammates that I was thinking about pursuing law school after college. It was during my sophomore season, and I had a lot of basketball left to give. I had long aspired to pursue the law, and at that time in my life, I thought about it more and more. So I wanted to see what others thought of the vision. I went to my right-hand man, Sean, and told him, “I am thinking about law school after UD. What do you think?”

“I love it, bull,” he responded in his classic charismatic way.

“The way you go on and on about this stuff, I expected you to do this. I just hope after you crush the law and become President, you just don’t forget about me,” he continued as if I could ever forget the unforgettable. The conversation lasted no more than thirty seconds, but it took no more than that to realize the dreams I was hoping to manifest were evident to others.

A few weeks later, after I had conversations with some of my other teammates, Curtis, Cazom, and Devonne (TP), I had another conversation with Sean. This time he brought it up to me. He asked me if I wanted him to connect me with his dad about pursuing law school, and how to go about it more concretely. We had been in a rough stretch of the season, and the focus and pressure were on trying to get a winning streak going heading into the conference tourney. I was so appreciative that, at that very moment, he was concerned about the vision I had expressed to him.

University of Delaware Men’s Basketball players Sean Locke, Barnett Harris, and Devonne Pinkard share a smile during a first-half run against Northeastern.

Sean recognized that his friends, and especially his teammates, always had a lot more going on than met the eye. While the traditional image painted of a student-athlete is one of strength, relentlessness, and the ability to persevere, an entire side of the image is almost completely neglected – that of the vulnerability, compassion, and desire to help others. It is not hard to miss this side of the student-athlete when the side most people see is the former. However, I have spent my entire life around athletes, including four wonderful years around student-athletes at the college level, and those individuals possess that other half of the image as well. All of them also had their struggles, yet it is easy for people to believe that all is well when they only see the public image. The largest part of the iceberg is the part many do not see, and the vulnerable side of the student-athlete is the side many neglect.

That is something Sean knew, and that is why Sean’s House is so important. Sean’s House will provide the home away from home that allows student-athletes and students in general, to show and express the other half of the image many do not realize they possess – a place to be vulnerable.

For as long as I could remember, I had received the same two questions every day. Standing six-feet nine inches, the first question was, “How tall are you?” The follow-up almost routinely would then be, “Do you play basketball?”

My time at the University of Delaware was like a dream. I played in front of thousands of people on a nightly basis, I traveled the country playing the game I loved, and I made life-long friends on the court and in the classroom. I played in March Madness and experienced the excitement of playing on the most significant stage for college basketball. As my daily experiences would suggest, that is what most people saw in me. But are student-athletes not more than the sport they play? For every student-athlete, there is also another half of the picture, and in my case, that half is a law student at Georgetown.

Georgetown Law student Barnett Harris converses with Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine after Georgetown Law’s State and Local Government Policy and Law (SALPAL) panel on addressing hate crimes and online extremist recruitment.

Until I went to college, I rarely left Pittsburgh. I grew up around the same community, seeing many of the same individuals almost every day. When I got to Delaware, all of that changed. I rarely could come home (if at all), and I was in search of a home away from home. I wanted to find a place I could go to be around the “family” that cared about more than just my stats on a given night.

I was lucky. I did not have one set home away from home. I had a bunch of them. With Sean, my home away from home was the restaurant Taverna. It was a remarkable place to eat, a friendly setting to talk to someone about life with, and, somehow, every time we ate there, Sean knew someone. It was here where Sean and I discussed my law school ambitions in detail. It was here where I met with Sean’s dad (the famous, Chris Locke) and the wonderful Kevin Healy to discuss approaching law school more strategically – putting a plan to the dream. And it was here which led to my current environment, a student at Georgetown Law.

Another home away from home was Sean’s actual house. Being a college basketball player can be challenging in many ways beyond the physical demands, and that includes missing many holidays with loved ones. Sean’s home was my home for Thanksgiving and Easter on more than one occasion. It was a place where I felt as if I was back in Pittsburgh with my own family.

Another home for me was spent at the house of my teammates and roommates, Dylan Miller being one in particular. Dylan became a confidant early on in my time at Delaware. Having grown up in Delaware, he did not have far to travel. It did not take very long for him to extend his home to me – and even shorter for me to accept this offer. In my four years at the University of Delaware, a good year and a half were probably spent at the Miller’s – and it was in these settings in which I was able to manifest in ways that had nothing to do with the sport I played.

Sean, Barnett, Dylan Miller, and the University of Delaware Men’s Basketball players celebrate after making a twenty-point comeback against College of Charleston. The Blue Hens would go on to win the game.

These examples just scrape the surface. I was extremely fortunate that Delaware provided me many different versions of “Sean’s House” in my time. One of my vulnerabilities is loneliness – I dread being alone. I am my best self when I am with those around me, a reason I loved playing basketball so much. I had the great fortune of having teammates and friends who provided me the ability to be the best version of myself in a variety of settings. Sean’s House can be this home for so many who desire it.

Sean showed me more than anything that people have a lot more going on than what you think. I understand that my classmates are more than just law students. Yet, we are not immune to being perceived as machines that do not go through the stresses of life many people deal with. This is an idealized image that does not portray us accurately.

Second-year Georgetown Law student Barnett Harris shares a laugh with Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt as they welcome new students to campus and the Georgetown community during New Student Orientation Week 2019.

So I try to be there for my classmates and provide a home away from home for them in many of the ways Sean was there for me. I try to go to different restaurants around D.C. to try anything other than cafeteria food on campus as often as I can — and to learn about what led them to law school. I try to go to Georgetown and Washington Wizards basketball games with classmates as often as possible to enjoy the greatest sport on the face of the earth and get a refresher from the demands of legal education. I also make an effort to simply stop around campus and have a conversation about anything other than the latest Supreme Court ruling — to see how the person is doing, not just the law student. And, of course, I never turn down an opportunity to dress up and enjoy an event with the many remarkable individuals I am fortunate to learn alongside of.

I spent many hours at Taverna with Sean, in Dylan’s room at his home, at Curtis’ apartment on campus, at the Suki Hana at the Christiana Mall with Cazmon, in TP’s hotel room on away trips expressing my vision about going to law school, and hearing nothing but love and support for this ambition. Sean’s House will provide that haven for many students, especially students of color who may be far away from home. It will also be a place student-athletes can express their feelings, dreams, desires, and fears without worrying about having to put on an image that just is not the complete version of themselves.

I cannot understate how important it is to have an environment where you can become the best version of yourself. This requires the ability to be vulnerable and express all the aspects of your life to others.

I want to recognize that this is not a new issue. I played my entire career under the image that only told half of my story. So did many of my teammates. So did countless others that have come before me. And so do so many athletes today. We all have grown up in a world where we must fit this idolized image that does not accurately portray any student-athlete, or student in general for that matter. Things have gotten better, but we are far from done. I genuinely hope we can accomplish something momentous with Sean’s House, but I know we need your help. Sean’s House can provide the space where students who are battling all of the stresses of life can go to and become a better version of themselves – by simply being THEMSELVES.

Happy Birthday, Sean – you will always be my inspiration.

Twenty-Four

SUPPORT. SL24 plans to create a safe haven where high school and college students can receive professional help. Students will be able to speak with peers about their struggles with depression and the threat of suicide.

Twenty-Four

Chris Locke

SUPPORT. SL24 plans to create a safe haven where high school and college students can receive professional help. Students will be able to speak with peers about their struggles with depression and the threat of suicide.

Any Athlete will tell you the number he or she chooses has a deep meaning. The number they wear is part of who they are. It is part of their identity.

If you think about your favorite sports personality, the number is almost the identity of the person. If you see a New York Yankee shirt with #2- Derek Jeter. A Patriots jersey with #12- Tom Brady. An Orioles shirt with #5- Brooks Robinson. The name does not even need to appear on the shirt, but we instantly know who it is.

Growing up as a kid, we were all excited to get our first official uniform. When the Coach would ask us what number do you want, it is such a tough question to answer. The pressure to pick the right number can be overwhelming to a kid. Then we think, “I’ll pick the same number as my favorite player”. For me, it was #7, the favorite player of my Dad and mine, Mickey Mantle.

As we get older, most of our athletic careers end freshman year of high school. For the exceptional athlete, they may play another four years in high school. For elite athletes, they play for another four years in college. A very select few will play professionally. These athletes that play high school, college, or professionally, the number they wear is part of who they are, and it is part of all of us when we root for their success.

The number 24 has loomed large in our home for many years. The number 24 was Sean’s basketball number (except his freshman year at UD because the number 24 belonged to a senior). I wish I could tell you why Sean picked the number 24. I have my theories, but I really don’t know. Unfortunately, no one in the family knows why he chose the number 24. A big part of this is because the picking of a number for your jersey can be so personal. His coach at St. Marks said that so long as he is Coach, no other person will ever wear #24. He said firmly, “#24 is Sean’s number”. It is that personal to so many who knew Sean and played basketball with him.

I chose to write this blog at this time because today, July 18th, is the 24th month since our beloved Sean lost his battle with depression. He was buried on July 24th, two weeks shy of his 24th birthday. 

It has been 24 months since we last heard his voice, felt his hugs, saw him smile. Each 24-hour day has been tougher without him in it. The silence of his voice is deafening. His absence looms larger than his presence ever did.

His old basketball jerseys with the number 24 are now valuable family heirlooms to be passed down to his siblings someday when I have the courage to part with them. Every once in a while, I wear one of his jerseys just to feel close to him.

The number 24 still looms large in our family life. When my daughter, Kathryn, gave birth to our grandson, Maclin, it was on Sean’s favorite holiday, the 24th of December. When our son, Aedan, returned to his football team in the late summer of 2018, the coach and the entire team gave him #24 to wear. The following spring, his lacrosse coach and the team did the same. When our daughter, Patty, made the basketball team at Padua, the coach gave her #24 to wear for the next four years. It brought tears to all of us. 

When our family decided to create a foundation in honor of Sean, the number 24 was always going to be part of the foundation name. The number 24 is part of Sean’s identity and is now part of all of us.

The SL24 Foundation is rooted in supporting other people like Sean who need help with their mental health. Though the family created the name of the Foundation, it has been all of you; our board members, our sponsors, and all of our and Sean’s friends that have made SL24 what it is today. It is all of you that have worn Sean’s #24 all over the country, and even parts of the world, having conversations removing the stigma of mental illness. So many have told me that when you wear your SL24 shirt, it begins a serious conversation about mental health. When we give the warm-up jerseys to each player at the basketball tournament, they wear them with pride and have meaningful conversations with their parents and friends about mental health long after the tournament is over.

Today, we see Sean’s #24 in a different light. It represents that Sean’s legacy and his number 24 will educate high school and college students about mental health, assist those with mental illness, and support those who need help.

On September 24th, we will open Sean’s House in Newark, Delaware. It will be open 24 hours a day, free of charge, to help young adults 14 to 24 years of age. Sean’s House will support and provide resources through our Peer 24 Program. This Peer 24 Program was designed in conjunction with the amazing people of the University of Delaware faculty at the College of Health Science, School of Nursing, and the Psychology Department. The Peer 24 Program will consist of people trained by the Mental Health Association in Delaware to be peer support specialists with real lived experience to help those with mental health issues. Doctorate students from the Psychology Department, with the supervision of staff, will be available to provide additional support to those young adults thinking of self-harm.

Sean’s House would not be possible without all of you. It would not be possible without all the love and dedication so many have given to the mission of SL24 Foundation. Your love for Sean and the love for those you have lost in your own life to mental illness will help so many. We hope that Sean’s House will be the first step to remove the stigma of mental illness and to help those we love to get the help they need.

We will never know why Sean picked the number 24, but we do know that his number will represent so much more than something that was on the back of his jersey.

 Last month, I watched a Ben Affleck movie called “The Way Back”. In the film, Affleck plays a former basketball superstar who is struggling with life. It is a story of sorrow but also a story of redemption. At the end of the movie, he is walking in his former high school gym, and you see his banner acknowledging his greatness with his retired number. The number is 24. I literally gasped when I saw this scene.

Sean’s story is a story of sorrow, but it is also a story of love for all those he will help in his name and number. Sean was all about loving and caring for others, and through Sean’s House, his story will continue.

Feelings from the Frontlines.

Feelings from the Frontline

Emma Grey

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Emma Grey eight hours into a twelve hour shift on a COVID positive unit.

At 7:30, whether it’s a.m. or p.m., I physically clock out from work. But, I wish it was that simple for my mind, that is still “clocked in” until 10 p.m., if not later. There are nights that I wake up at 3 a.m. before the next shift and find my heart pounding out of my chest, with a heart rate over 100, and a million thoughts swarming through my head. When I catch my breath and open my eyes, I realize I’m dreaming about work, my patients, messing something up, and putting a person’s life in jeopardy. 

But the truth is, this isn’t just some bad dream. This has been a typical work night for me since the beginning of March. I currently am a Registered Nurse in Philadelphia, where my unit was converted to one of the hospital’s first COVID positive units. When I tell my co-workers about my sleepless night, they nod their heads, replying, “Yup, me too. Hasn’t stopped since this all started.” 

This is what it’s like to be on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s something that none of us ever expected or agreed to do, but here we are, doing it willingly and coming back each day time and time again. And while being a “healthcare hero” is an honor, we need to address that it’s taking a more significant toll on our mental health than we could have ever imagined. Or maybe more than we even currently imagine.

Grey shortly after her floor was converted to a COVID-19 positive floor.

It’s hard to describe what it feels like to work to take care of patients suffering from COVID-19. And when I say, to work, I mean to try. There are moments where you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle from the second you get a report on your patients at 7 a.m. You’re busting your ass all day, sweating, always on your feet, donning and doffing your PPE, and going nonstop for 12 hours. And when you wash your hands for the millionth time after your 12 hour shift, you leave work always wondering if you did your best. 

It’s become one of those types of tiredness that simply can only be fixed by a massive hug from your Mom or a cold beer with your best friend. All you want to do is be with your family or friends or go somewhere you love. But, the reality is you can’t. And the icing on this pandemic cake is that everyone who you love and wants to see you, also really doesn’t want to see you. They miss you, but they don’t want to risk being around you. So you’re left out. There is a specific kind of FOMO seeing your friends seeing their other friends, their families, practicing social distancing, but in a more relaxed version of yours. 

What they don’t tell you about being a “hero” is that you’re even more socially isolated than before. In these moments of an uphill battle or loneliness, I’ve found myself faced with moments of rare, raw humanity. These moments aren’t the feel-good ones that you see on John Krasinski’s “Some Good News.” These moments don’t make it to Tik-Tok, but they are just as important. Moments where you are holding up an iPad while a family looks at their parents, crying, knowing they are saying their last “I love yous”, trying to get as many as possible in before the call is over. The feeling that you get when an elderly man, with a sick son across the hall, both COVID positive, looks at you in the eyes and says, “I am going to die, aren’t I?” is gut-wrenching. 

When you get home and leave your shoes outside your apartment and throw your scrubs in the wash, it’s still with you. There isn’t a metaphorical Gatorade or Michael Jordan’s “secret stuff” to help you replenish for the trauma of losing a patient. I catch myself crying at the simplest things. I know there’s no good Hallmark card for this, but it still hurts hearing those you love to say that “they don’t think they should be around you right now”. Are they right? A hundred percent. Does it hurt? A hundred percent. But I keep going, and since I keep showing up, I have had to find ways to cope with everything that is happening around me. 

Grey and co-worker getting ready for “just another day at the office”.

Since March, the word “PPE” has become a Google favorite. The commonly used medical term for personal protective equipment has now become the talk of the town. Our country is scrambling to find more physical PPE, like masks, gowns, respirators, and gloves. And they’re not wrong; we need it. But there’s a genuine part of me that wishes there was the same amount of urgency around “emotional PPE”. 

How, as a community, can “emotional PPE” be provided to not only frontline workers but everyday people living through this? For me, I have found this type of “equipment” in my co-workers, my hospital’s resources, my family, and myself. My hospital has been able to provide free peer counseling during the pandemic. We are now able to debrief with a trained mental health professional for free after something really shakes you up at work.

I’ve said earlier that COVID had brought moments of raw, rare humanity, and I still see that with my co-workers. They can be described by every positive word known to humankind. They are the only in-person contact I see besides patients, and they are going through the same experiences as me. It feels good to share these experiences, knowing that I am not alone. In these “unprecedented times”, I also find myself turning to my very precedent family and friends. Whether it’s a funny Snapchat from  my best friends, “The Chicklets,” or a group Facetime with the Grey Fam, I feel so lucky to have people in my life who listen and validate my feelings. People like that are more valuable than all the hand-sanitizer and toilet paper in the world. 

And, sometimes, the most “heroic” thing you can do is be your own emotional PPE at times. I am on my own on my days off now, and I have tried every de-stress tactic you can find on a Buzzfeed article. I have found solace in doing yoga and focusing on my breathing. It’s incredible how many times I’ve heard someone say that, but it’s even more amazing what taking a couple deep, cleansing breaths can do for your mind. I run and walk outside as much as possible on my days off. I listen to Whitney, Stevie, Dave, the JoBros, and more and dance in my apartment. At night, I use a weighted blanket, turn on some white noise, and try to create a healthy sleep environment; the list goes on. 

Grey and co-workers during Nurses week celebrating the Philadelphia community.

Without this “emotional PPE”, I don’t think we as nurses or other frontline workers would be able to continue to do our jobs and take care of ourselves. And when it seems like there is a shortage of “emotional PPE”, there are always people who want to help. It’s incredible the support we’ve seen from others outside the hospital, and I completely encourage it. It helps keep us going. But I hope you don’t forget about supporting yourself as well. Don’t forget your mask, of course, but try to remember your emotional personal protective equipment too. It feels nice to be considered “essential”, but really, we are all essential when it comes to taking care of ourselves.

We’re on the front lines. We are the first line. But the “front line” only works if there is the backup. If there’s a second line, a third line, to support and bolster the front line. And that’s not just for this pandemic. Dealing with anxiety and mental health, you are the “front line”. You can’t do it alone; you need the backup. For me, the second line is my family, friends, anyone who is reaching out a hand and saying, “I see you. I hear you. What can I do for you?” The third line is what I believe to be a sense of community. A sense of belonging to something that matters, whether that be a group of nurses, a team, a club, a family, a group of friends. I hope we take the time during this pandemic to realize that we are all essential and necessary. We cannot show up physically without showing up mentally. As businesses and restaurants start to open and life regains some normalcy, I hope that everyone will remember that the frontline workers will still be treating COVID-19 patients. And we will need your second and third line backup to get through the tough days. If we all show up for ourselves first and foremost, armed with our emotional PPE, we can show up for others. 

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A Little Sister’s Lighthouse

A Little Sister's Lighthouse

Patty Locke

Walking into my first day of high school at Padua Academy was nerve-racking. I was worried about the transition from my small middle school to a big high school, whether or not I would fit in, and what life would be like as a freshman. While I knew the anxiety I felt was pretty relatable for most freshmen, I was still excited about meeting new girls and meeting all of my teachers.  After finishing my first week of school, I knew that I was definitely part of the Padua sisterhood. You couldn’t walk down the halls without feeling the love of the other girls and the support from teachers. I felt like I was a part of a family at Padua and I learned quickly why Padua is often called “The Big Box of Love”.

My Padua family extended once I decided to join the basketball team. I couldn’t wait for the first practice! As a freshman, I knew it would be tough to balance life as a student-athlete. I felt stressed about managing my grades, but as the season continued, I felt myself becoming more and more comfortable with managing my stress and time as an athlete. Being able to take a break from school and do something I enjoy, like basketball, has been a great way for me to manage my stress. But managing life as a student-athlete isn’t always as easy as a lay-up.

The Locke family celebrating Aedan’s graduation from Mount Aviat Academy.

I always looked up to my brother Sean. Not just because he was 6’4 and ten years older than me, but because he was the type of student, athlete, and person I admired. I loved watching him on the court with all his teammates. He would sprint up and down, making everything seem so easy.  He made life as a student-athlete look easy. Everything he did on and off the court was perfect in my eyes. 

The thing I loved most about my big brother was our “little talks”. Conversations with Sean could be about anything from our love of basketball to him giving me dating advice. Sean would always say to me, “Patty, you aren’t allowed to date before you’re married,” and of course, my response was “Well, I’m already married to Tom Holland”.  You could find us singing church songs together, with Sean pretending to play guitar as I sang into a karaoke microphone. If Sean had a costume party to go to, I would pretend to be his personal stylist. When thinking about Sean, I just replay our funny and goofy conversations.

Patty and Sean playing “music” in the kitchen.

But… we never talked about mental health. Looking back, I thought Sean was perfectly fine because he would laugh with me. He didn’t seem like he was battling depression, he didn’t seem “sad”.  However, like so many of us, Sean was trying to manage his mental health through a mask. Behind that disguise was my big brother, my best friend, suffering from depression. His depression didn’t make him less of an amazing big brother. Maybe he didn’t talk to me about it because he felt like he wasn’t supposed to feel that way, maybe he thought I was too young, but I can’t help but wonder how my life would be different if he talked to someone about his mental health. 

Sean was always there when I needed him. If I wanted to laugh, cry, or rant, he was there. He would always protect me and give me the best advice. He was my go-to-guy.

The Locke family during a Sunday dinner.

I know that talking about mental health can be tough and difficult, but seizing the awkwardness can help student-athletes- and teenagers in general- manage their mental health without a mask. Suicide is a sticky conversation sometimes, but it’s not something that should be avoided. Everyone has mental health and the way we manage it can either help or hurt. I truly believe that if our community can help remove the stigma around mental health, we can help students take off their masks and feel comfortable in their own skin.

When Sean passed away, my family had so many people helping and supporting us. But the people that really stood out to me are my teachers. At Mount Aviat, my STEM teacher, Mrs. Dymowski would talk to me like I wasn’t just her student but a friend whose feelings she cared about. She would help me whenever I needed to talk or just take a break. At Padua, there are so many teachers who support you and validate your feelings. Mrs. G, my Health and Wellness teacher, shares her own stories and creates joy every day in the classroom. You know when you step into the gym that Mrs. G is on your team and loves you.  She wants you to be your authentic self, without the mask. Padua is known as the Big Box of Love and I’m almost positive 50% of that love comes from Mrs. G. My basketball coach, John McMenamin, helps me feel very safe and welcomed me to the team when he opened up to me about losing someone in his family. This short talk helped me know I was always able to go to him if I needed some help.  

Patty with her “Big Sister”, Ireland, and her teacher, Mrs. Shaw-Giaquinto.

. Teachers and coaches have a big impact on mental health because they are with their students and players all the time. Teachers and coaches should continue to be supportive and shouldn’t be afraid to talk about mental health with their students.  As a Delaware community, we need to not just watch out for our friends and family, but to be proactive in our conversations around mental health. We need teachers and coaches, like Mrs. Dymowski, Coach John, and Mrs. G, to continue to be lighthouses for their students during dark periods. 

My family will never be the same without my brother Sean, but the hope is to help others so they don’t have to suffer. I want to make sure that I make Sean proud by doing something that came so naturally to him, making others feel accepted and full of joy.

If you’re interested in ending the stigma surrounding mental health, please join my family and me on February 8th for our memorial basketball tournament at the 76ers Fieldhouse in memory of my brother Sean.

SL24 Memorial Classic

Join us at the 76ers Fieldhouse.
February 8, 2020
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Running as Therapy

Running as Therapy

Michael Igo

Running always came as a punishment to me! When I thought of running, I thought of the endless laps around the St. Mark’s High School lacrosse field for showing up late to practice, or the never-ending diagonals on the soccer field when we gave up a goal in the last five minutes of a game. It took a slower metabolism and a small wager with my mother to convince me to sign up for my very first half marathon. 

Sean, Michael, and their best friends.

I started running long distances to train for the 2018 Philadelphia Half Marathon. Before this, the only thing I knew about running, was that I hated it. In the middle of my training, I was hit with the worst and most confusing news I had ever received — my best friend, Sean Locke, had lost his battle with depression. So many emotions flooded my brain. I thought to myself, “How could a guy like Sean be suffering from depression?” I never thought depression targeted a homecoming king, a Division I athlete, or a kid with a strong group of family and friends surrounding him. It was at this time I realized, I didn’t know much about running or mental health. In the following months, I continued to train and began educating myself about mental health and depression. I started to notice a common theme between the two: Support is the key to success.

Michael and his family after his first half marathon.

 Last fall, I completed my first half marathon alongside my mother and two sisters. I can truly say that it was with their support that I was able to push through those weekly 9,10, and 11 mile runs that at the time felt almost impossible. Depression is not something someone can face alone. Friends and family play a crucial role in helping one manage this disease. Their influence during the dark times and difficult days is sometimes just as important as that of medical professionals.

Over the past year, I’ve kept up with running and use it as a way to clear my head. No matter how short or long of a run, I always use it as a time for myself to set goals, prioritize my day, or reminisce on memories. Sean and I were supposed to be roommates together in Philadelphia. It is common for me to run through Philadelphia thinking of Sean and some of my favorite memories we shared together. I think back to the times I attended his basketball games, all the “ferda” tabs at Grotto’s, our corporate lunch dates, perfecting “the Locke face” as we posed for selfies, and almost winning the annual BTO golf tournament. 

On Saturday, November 23rd, the SL24 Philadelphia Half Marathon team will compete in the 2019 Philadelphia Half Marathon. The team will run 13.1 miles with the SL24: UnLocke the Light Foundation in honor of Sean Locke. My hopes are that all runners take the time to remember and laugh at some of their favorite moments with Sean or someone else they know who battles mental illness. 

Please support our efforts by making a donation, purchasing a jersey, or joining the team! The SL24 team will be wearing the Philadelphia Half Marathon Locke jerseys to create awareness for mental health. 

Add your Light

Click to join Michael & the SL24: UnLocke the Light as they run the 2019 Philadelphia Half Marathon.
CODE: HCBCC2019

The Grieving Tree

The Grieving Tree

Kat Locke- Jones

Dear Sean, 

The last time I took a trip around the Sun without you I was three. 

There’s this picture of us on the first day you ever came home, probably within minutes of me being promoted to an older sister of two. Mom still has the hospital band around her wrist and Dad’s shoes definitely give him more of a “Danny Tanner” vibe than the “Uncle Jesse” vibe he was probably going for. Kevin looks a little unclear about whether or not you’re worth putting down his Pooh Bear for, and in this very first picture of you and me, I’m reaching out to you.

Chris, Kevin, Pam, and Kathryn welcoming Sean home for the first time.

This past trip around the Sun has been filled with me reaching out to you.

This first year without you was filled with trying to figure out what life meant without singing (read: screaming) K-Ci and JoJo’s “All My Life” on the way to the beach. It meant not having someone to analyze people’s shoes with on their way to communion at church. I went a year without having my iPhone charger stolen in the middle of the night. This year without you meant I didn’t have to buy an extra birthday gift for our parents because I knew you would forget. On Christmas Eve, if I’m being honest, I felt a little silly making Ritz cracker sandwiches with cocktail sauce, shrimp, and exactly one piece of cheddar cheese without you. 

I struggled with what it meant to be a survivor of suicide loss. I knew how to be an older sister, but there isn’t exactly a handbook on being an older sister to someone who died of suicide.

For 23 years, being your older sister meant spending Sundays at the dinner table, telling Aedan that if he was a character on Full House, he would be Kimmi Gibbler. And then, after getting yelled at for teasing him, telling him that he was Comet instead. Being your sister meant having a girl buy me a free drink at the bar because she thought I would put in a good word with you. It meant after-work phone calls because we both hated driving in silence. It meant spending twenty minutes texting back and forth before we “approved” of an Instagram caption. It meant singing in the kitchen with Patty to a song  we made up on the spot about Cheez-Its. 

But, what does being your sister mean now that you’re not here? 

I remember Dad sitting us all down one night as kids to read us The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It’s such a small memory- Victor wanted to sleep in a sleeping bag instead of his bed, Kevin had a Yankee hat on, I wasn’t really paying too much attention because I had a loose tooth, and you were throwing a ball up in the air. I don’t even remember if we finished the book that night. But, growing up, I always knew the gist of the story- a tree gave everything it had for a boy that it loved. 

Kevin, Kathryn, and Sean jumping on their trampoline.

I’m not sure if I truly understood the message as freckle-faced ten year old, but I was able to figure out that this was supposed to be a metaphor for the strength of love. That this touchy-feely sort of story was to represent the kindness and generosity found in love. 

When you took your life last July, I kept coming back to this idea of love found in The Giving Tree. I never got to the stage of grief that is supposed to be filled with anger at you for leaving, but… I  spent a lot of this year just wanting to know if you had even the slightest idea how much we all love you. About how much we would have given- branches and all- to have you back in our life. 

And as I’ve spent this year grieving and trying to sort together whatever it means to be an older sister to someone who died of suicide, I’ve come to the conclusion that  The Giving Tree is, well, kind of full of shit. 

Sean and Kathryn in the Outer Banks. Summer of 2012.

It took me a whole year to realize that love and strength are not measured by how much pain you can endure. It’s not measured by giving up so much of yourself that you feel depleted. It’s definitely not measured by how many times you “successfully” tell someone you have allergies instead of that you were actually crying in the car to a Justin Bieber song. 

But true, quiet, love and strength are measured by being compassionate to yourself. By noticing, feeling, and responding to your emotions- even if they seem sad or scary or like something that doesn’t really go with your day’s to-do list. This year of grief meant realizing that family photos can never really be “recent”  again but they can still be taken. Sometimes love is just working on being fluent in silence. Sometimes strength means living out the more accurate signs of grief which are, according to my research, crying, rewatching The Office fifteen times, crying, and eating a lot of bagels. 

Kevin, Kathryn, Everett, Patty, Aedan, Victor, and Sean on Thanksgiving 2015.

If this year taught me anything, it’s that the generosity and kindness of love can better be measured by love you show yourself. This year of grief taught me that your relationship doesn’t become less important or meaningful or impactful when you lose someone you love, no matter how you lose them. Being your sister still means making up songs about cheese by-product snacks. It still means telling Aedan, who will be starting his senior year this year, that he’s, like, twelve years old.

But it also means being kinder to myself and sometimes means having to create space to be sad. It means honoring other siblings who have lost someone to depression. It means going to weekly therapy sessions and texting your friends when I really miss you. Being a survivor of suicide loss doesn’t fit perfectly on a Hallmark greeting card. It’s finding that sweet spot between being strong and not just trying to be impenetrable. 

My first trip around the Sun without you since 1994 wasn’t filled with any less of your love or strength.

And the horrible fact of the matter is, I’ll probably take a lot more trips around the Sun without you than I did with you. I’ll have to learn the ways to tell my future kids our stories without you being there to chime in when it’s your turn. I’ll spend my next few trips around the Sun finding community when having conversations about you and your story. I’ll spend these next few trips figuring out how life without you can still be a life filled with you. 

While I’m still not sure if have a concrete definition about what means to be a survivor of suicide loss, I’ll keep spending my trips around the Sun creating a space where people feel like others are reaching out for them. We, as family, a community, and a foundation will keep having conversations about why mental health matters. 

As for what being your sister means for me today? 

It will always mean reaching out to you. 

I adored you your entire life and I will miss you for the rest of mine. 

And hey, put in a good word for me and the Yankees with The Big Man upstairs.

Your sister, 

Kathryn 

P.S. I love you. 

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Angels in the Outfield

Join us on August 6th at Camden Yards to celebrate what would have been Sean's 25th birthday.
New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles
7:05pm

Managing What Matters

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Managing What Matters

Anthony Coburn Jr.

Anthony Coburn Jr. with his girlfriend, Ryann, his parents, Anthony and Gina, and his sister, Angela, and her husband, Giuseppe.

I’ve been working on my mental health for about nine years now. It comes and goes in waves. It sometimes stays longer than I would like, but sometimes disappears in an instant. It has its own way of dealing with things that are hard to control. In reality, it’s more of learning how to manage your mental health more than anything. I choose the word “manage” because it really is something that you can’t control.  When I think about managing my mental health, for me, it was about seeking out the correct guidance for the emotions I was feeling during my life.

I first went to speak with a therapist about my mental health, specifically anxiety, about nine years ago. I was scared and nervous to voice what I was feeling to another person that I had never even met before in my life. I went for a couple of months and eventually felt good enough to stop going for a while. I was able to learn tools to help manage the anxiety I was feeling.

I learned that these emotions were coming in different waves at different times in my life. For many years, I tried to just speak to people I was comfortable with, whether that be friends or family, about what I was feeling – although everything wasn’t always being voiced to them.

Anthony with his family during a trip to Italy in 2018.

I really didn’t want people to know that I was dealing with anxiety. I was worried and almost became more anxious since I didn’t want anyone to “find out” I was talking to a therapist. At this time in my life, I didn’t realize that my mental wellbeing was more important than literally everything else in the world. Nothing else should have mattered to me. If I’m being honest, I just really didn’t want others to think or look at me differently.

Then, about ten months ago, I was hit with the biggest wave thus far in my life when it came to managing my mental health. When I lost my best friend, Sean, it felt more like losing a brother.  I hadn’t lost anyone this close to me outside of my immediate family, so I wasn’t exactly sure how to manage it. Grieving when you lose someone to suicide is different because this type of tragedy happens so unexpectedly. Losing Sean was more like getting hit with a train that I had no idea was coming.

My family noticed I was struggling to manage my mental health, so they spoke with me about going back to talk to a therapist – and I did.

I decided that I need to make my mental health a priority again and return to therapy. I realized that I could talk about my feelings with a therapist while also being fully and completely comfortable in my masculinity. Speaking with someone about your feelings should not be perceived as a weakness. It takes strength to admit that you need support and to share that with someone else, especially a complete stranger.

Anthony with his best friend and emotional support dog, Remy.

You are not alone if you are struggling with your mental health. It does not make you any less of a man or a woman or person to ask for help. Outside of talking with someone, I recently adopted a dog and made her my emotional support animal.  It’s amazing how much an animal can change your perspective on a lot of things in life. I’ve learned the true meaning of “a man’s best friend” already in just a short six months.  I can honestly say that Remy has positively contributed to my mental wellness.

The key is to figure out the right way to manage your own mental health. Just because you may suffer from mental health issues doesn’t take away from your chances of being successful and, most importantly, being happy with the life you live. Being happy with your life is all that really matters at the end of the day. Celebrities like Terry Bradshaw, Serena Williams, Brandon Marshall, and Michael Phelps speak about managing their mental health and look at all they have accomplished in their lives.

Nine years ago, I was scared and nervous to speak to someone about my feelings. But the truth is, it doesn’t make you any less than who you really are. No one can help if they don’t know what’s going on.

You are the first person that can help yourself. Getting the help you need to be the best YOU is what matters the most. It’s what mattered most to me.

Anthony Coburn Jr. is a Management Trainee for Enterprise Holdings in Clearwater, FL and a class of 2012 Salesian gentleman. He considers himself a huge sports fan, specifically of the Philadelphia sports teams (Go Birds). He also enjoys spending time with his friends and going to the beach in his free time. You can find him walking his dog, advocating for mental health, and spoiling his new niece, Adrianna.

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Light on Your Feet 5k

Join the New Castle County Board of REALTORS® on June 29th as they partner with SL24: UnLocke the Light for the "Light On Your Feet 5K".

All Things Possible with Brotherly Love

Growing up as Sean Locke’s younger brother meant a couple of things. It meant always finding an empty packet of Oreos in the cupboard, put there just to annoy Dad. It meant being a few minutes late to dinner because Sean needed to listen to his favorite song just one more time. It meant staying up just to watch the Bachelor on a Monday night when I had a test the next day.

  Sean and Aedan at Mount Aviat Academy.

The summer before my One thing he always emphasized was that when my shot didn’t go in, I couldn’t be so hard on myself. I needed to get back up and try again. Looking back, I realized that was more than just an advice for a sport, but it was a metaphor for life. When things don’t go your way, you can’t get down on yourself. You have to figure out what went wrong and work harder. It’s a message that almost every older brother teaches to their young brother. I’m lucky that I was able to learn that message from Sean on those summer days.freshman year at Saint Mark’s, Sean made it his mission to coach me in basketball. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Sean would come over to teach me as much as he could. We would spend two hours in the driveway, shooting around, talking about life. The days were hot and sometimes long, but there was nothing I would have rather done then spend time with my older brother doing something he loved. I grew up watching him play basketball all the way from Mount Aviat to St. Mark’s to the University of Delaware. I felt so lucky to have somebody with his basketball caliber teaching me his skills. I felt even cooler having my 20 year old brother spend his summer in the driveway with me.

  Aedan, Sean, and Dad at UD’s CAA Conference Championship in 2014.

Sean was my role model, best friend, and most importantly, my older brother. It’s hard to explain the relationship that brothers have, but I feel like having brothers are like feet. They ache and stink, but at the end of the day you’re beyond grateful to have them. I always looked up to him because he had such a hunger to be the best at everything he did. I remembering seeing his drive and determination and just knowing I wanted to be exactly like him.

Today, it’s been six months since Sean has taken his life. There are still days where it doesn’t feel real and I’m still in shock from that statement. There are days where I struggle with missing Sean so much that I just want to stay home from school. There are days where I feel like I won’t be able to go through the whole school day without a breakdown. Even though these days happen, there hasn’t been one day where I haven’t been proud to be Sean Locke’s younger brother. I know I still can look up to him in so many ways. I want my older brother to be remembered for how he lived, not how he died.

To me, the SL24 Memorial Basketball Classic is not just another high school rivalry game.  It’s an opportunity for me to show Sean what I’ve learned from him. I can’t play “around the world” with Sean in the driveway anymore. We won’t be able to try and hide the fact that we hit Mom’s minivan accidentally with a basketball.

However, February 8th, gives St. Mark’s, Ursuline, Salesianum, and me an opportunity to play for Sean. We have chance to walk on to the court and play for others who need a little more light in their life.


On February 8th, I hope to see anyone who has ever played pick up with their little brother. I hope to see anyone who has ever been affected by mental health. Most importantly, I have a feeling, I’ll see Sean’s light and play for him and for others who suffer in darkness.


Aedan Locke is a junior at Saint Mark’s High School. He plays football, basketball, and lacrosse. He is a student council member, Blue Gold ambassador, and is actively helping SL24: UnLocke the Light foundation reach high school students.


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Join us February 8th and add your light here.