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.

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, 


P.S. I love you. 

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

Managing What Matters


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.

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.