SPUDSfunds for Suicide Prevention
Team Member: Jennalee McClellan
EVENT DATE Jul 15, 2016
Christina Klaffka wrote -
On November 9, 2015, our brother, Jason (Spuds) Sprada, took his own life at only 36 years young. When I heard the news, I was in disbelief, shocked, saddened and desperate for answers. Determined to seek answers as to what triggered the unimaginable shortly after our exchange of messages about his excitement of upcoming plans, I immersed myself in suicide prevention research. The reality was that Jason had been diagnosed with clinical depression more than two decades ago and had only received treatment for a short time thereafter. My admiration for Jason grew stronger each day as he exuded such strength and resilience in the face of hardship. He was tough, he shielded and protected me from the darkness he felt, and fought until the very last moment of his life. A true warrior.
I've since learned that his larger-than-life personality, his natural ability to spread laughter, and his quick and funny punchlines were a complete disguise for the inner battle he fought every day.
Jason, nicknamed Spuds, by his closest friends, seldomly declined an invitation to a life celebration, a sporting event, or a simple gathering of loved ones. He was a loyal fan to several sports teams including the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, New York Mets, Syracuse Orangemen and more. Throughout his teenage years, he proudly served as Captain of his hockey and baseball teams, and held positions as Center and Pitcher, respectively. Spuds underwent shoulder surgery and after a long recovery, he continued his greatest passion of playing sports in local leagues across Softball, Volleyball, Bowling, Roller Hockey, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention his participation in a Darts league. Spuds was no stranger to a leisurely Saturday afternoon on the golf course or driving range. He also organized and participated in many fundraisers to support local teams and charities
We have created the S.P.U.D.S. (Suicide Prevention & Understanding Different Signs) campaign to raise awareness around depression, mental health and suicide prevention. Together, we must eradicate the negative stigma associated with mental health to provide comfort and confidence for those in need and seeking treatment.
Though heartbroken, we try to move forward and fill our lives with the things that he enjoyed most; laughter, loyalty, empathy with bottomless love and compassion. Sadly, we know Jay's story is not uncommon, and it teaches us that there is much more that must be done to study and prevent suicide. Suicide is a complicated issue, and without a group effort, we have no hope of understanding and stopping it. As a family, we have joined the fight against suicide, and we would love for you to join it with us.
Jason shared this quote with me last year that has now brought such significance to my life. Ironically, his first hockey team was called the 'Cheektowaga Warriors'. " "Every man's heart one day beats its final beat, his lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others, and makes them bleed deeper, than something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever." - The Ultimate Warrior
Thank you to our friends, family and colleagues that have shown such tremendous support along the way. Knowing how loved he truly was allows us to gather strength and keep the happy memories alive