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Men's Hockey to Host DIFD Night in February

Thursday July 7, 2016
Gee-Gees logo on hockey puck
Richard A. Whittaker

Mental health touches us all.

As a proud supporter of mental health initiatives in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, the uOttawa Gee-Gees men's hockey team is honoured to partner with The Royal to put on Do It For Daron (DIFD) Mental Health Night at its home game on Thursday, February 2.

DIFD Night will be a particularly poignant event for Gee-Gees head coach Patrick Grandmaitre and his family.

 “My family and I have been dealt a hard blow with the passing of my older brother, who was battling mental health issues, two years ago today,” said Grandmaitre. “I still get very emotional when I think of the struggle he had to go through.”

One in five Canadians will battle a mental-health issue at some point in their lives; it is a force that touches everybody, whether it be directly or through a family member, colleague, or teammate. 

Mental Health Night will feature an awareness booth, DIFD stickers on both teams' helmets, and the donation of all 50/50 proceeds to DIFD at The Royal. 

“Associating and supporting a cause like DIFD is the least I can do,” said Coach Grandmaitre. “DIFD helps raise awareness, inspires conversations and transforms youth mental health.”

Nearly 20 teams, ranging from Atom to the American Hockey League, hosted DIFD events at their games during the 2015-16 season. The University of Ottawa is proud to join the list of teams trying to make a positive impact in mental health awareness.

“I’m amazed to continually see hockey teams hosting games each year in support of DIFD and youth mental health,” said DIFD co-founder and former NHLer Luke Richardson. “I’d encourage everyone at the game to use #weallskatetogether on social media — it’s a movement that began last year and is used at every DIFD game; it really connects people on and off the ice.”

uOttawa's opposition on the ice, and teammate in the battle to raise awareness, on February 2 will be the Carleton Ravens — an organization well-versed in mental health initiatives.

“I think it's absolutely outstanding that we're helping with the DIFD effort, we're strong proponents [of mental health awareness],” said Ravens head coach Marty Johnston. “The acceptance of asking for help and recognizing mental health is so important.”

The Thursday night in February will be about much more than the rivalry game; the focus will be on mental health — something that transcends a boxscore, season or career.

 “I know it's cliche to say, but if we can help one person, one family, avoid what my brother and my family has gone through, I will have honoured my brother Jean-Eric Grandmaitre's life the right way,” said Grandmaitre.