It’s in the news. It’s water-cooler-conversation material. It’s all over Facebook. And, like me, many of my fellow bloggers have been focusing on it.
Local radio personality and Ottawa Senators announcer Stuntman Stu, along with his radio show at Majic 100, have started the #NoMoreBullies campaign, encouraging people to write the promise on the palm of their hand to show support.
It’s been on my mind a lot lately, especially after recently finishing reading Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, where she tells the fictional story of a boy who was teased and bullied so mercilessly, that eventually he snaps and opens fire on his classmates at school. The book has made me think so much that I’ve been unable to get into the next book I chose to read. It seems I’m not ready to let the story go yet.
Two weeks ago, an Ottawa teen named Jamie Hubley committed suicide. His parents have related, via local media outlets, some of the awful torment Jamie had been going through, as one of the few openly gay teens at his high school. His father, Ottawa city councillor for Kanata South, Allan Hubley, recently said that Jamie was teased relentlessly for the fact that he liked figure skating better than hockey.
So, in a bittersweet touch, Battle of the Blades – a Canadian show that pairs former hockey players up with world-renowned figure skaters and pits them against each other in an ice dancing competition, with cash prizes for their chosen charities on the line – dedicated last night’s episode in memory of Jamie Hubley.
A month or so ago, at the beginning of the season of Battle of the Blades, I told you all how much I loved David Pelletier, and threw my support behind him and his female hockey playing partner, Tessa Bonhomme.
Shortly after writing that post, I learned that another competitor, Bryan Berard, and his partner Marie-France Dubreuil, would be skating for “Do It For Daron”, an Ottawa-based organization that is working towards raising youth mental health awareness, in honour of Daron Richardson, the daughter of Sens assistant coach Luke Richardson who took her own life almost one year ago at age 14.
D.I.F.D. is a cause that strikes close to home, as the Richardson family has ties to our community. I’ve watched in awe and admiration as several young local women have done amazing things in recent months to raise money and awareness in memory of their friend, Daron. In fact, just this past Friday night, they tied the cause in with the Shawville Jr. B home game, and while I was unable to attend, I hear “D.I.F.D. Night” at the Jr. B game was a HUGE success.
Naturally, because of D.I.F.D., I’ve been throwing my votes each week to Berard, even though I love David Pelletier and originally wanted him to win.
But, as it turns out, Berard is maybe just an acquired taste.
I disliked him in the beginning, on principle. He was drafted first over all a million years ago by the Senators, but refused to play here. So Ottawa traded him to the Islanders in exchange for the #2 pick that year…Wade Redden.
As you might guess, the rest is history. Wade Redden became my favourite player, my knight in shining armour, while I mentally cast Berard as the villain in this scenario – the big bad guy that I disliked with a passion.
Then he was traded to the Leafs. My mortal hockey enemy. Needless to say, my love for Berard did not grow any with this development.
Several years later, one of our young stars at the time, Marian Hossa, was a little careless with his stick in a game against the Leafs, accidentally clipping Berard in the eye. It caused severe damage, and while I would never wish ill will on the man, it was just another negative tie between him and my favourite team. My dislike for Berard continued to fester.
Berard was forced to sit out for several years as he endured surgeries and medical treatments to repair his eye. While many deemed his career to be over, he vowed to return, and did so a few years after the accident, in one of the greatest player comebacks in NHL history. His playing career continued until 2008, when he officially bowed out of hockey.
And then, this year, he shows up on Battle of the Blades. A huge, meaty-looking guy with tattoos up and down his arms, and long, stringy black hair.
Forgive me, but he didn’t exactly turn me on. And if he hadn’t been skating for D.I.F.D., I didn’t think I could ever cast a vote his way.
…Until last night.
Last night, Bryan Berard took to the ice with his partner, dressed formally, his long hair tied back, with his necktie loosened and just hanging around his neck. I wish I could find a picture to show you. It was…very, very sexy…
Better than a picture…just watch it:
They skated to “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Elvis Presley, which was the song the fans voted for them. As you may know, I’m a bit of an Elvis fanatic, and that song is one of my all-time favourites.
Just melt my damn heart.
Their skate was flawless…beautiful…It earned them top marks from the judges, and a standing ovation from the audience as they closed out last night’s program.
I thought of Jamie Hubley, the young man who was taunted for being a figure skater. The young man who took his own young life because he couldn’t face another day in this world where people can be so mean.
At that moment, I was so proud of Bryan Berard for doing this. He looks like the anti-figure-skater, but he’s doing this show, and raising awareness for youth mental health, in memory of people like Daron and Jamie, who so badly needed help; needed someone to talk to, to relate to, to understand them.
Last night, I enthusiastically phoned in many votes for Bryan & Marie-France - because of their great cause, and because he has finally made me fall in love with him.
I really, really hope they win.
For Daron. For Jamie.
For every young person who has ever needed help and didn’t know where to turn.