Day 8: Honouring Jacob Ranton
December 18th, 2017
If you were at Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI) on December 15 or 16, you would have been greeted by volunteers wearing t-shirts that read “My Life Matters”. The volunteers were there to support the fundraising efforts of the 3rd annual Jacob Ranton Memorial Basketball Tournament. But more importantly, they were there to raise awareness of mental illness and suicide prevention.
On December 23, 2014, WCI lost a former student named Jacob Ranton to mental illness. The Jacob Ranton Memorial Basketball Tournament brings high school basketball teams from across the region together to honour the memory of the former Viking and fundraise for the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.
The first game of the tournament was most memorable for its moving speeches during halftime. Jacob’s former coach, Craig Nickel, spoke about Jacob and the lasting impact he made on him. “I will never again look at someone who appears to have it all together without recognizing the possibility that they may be struggling. Mental issues can impact each and every one of us.” Coach Nickel has made it his mission to reach out and help others who may be battling mental illness. He goes on to say, “the irony is not lost on me that Jacob’s death has empowered me to help save the lives of others.”
Jacob’s parents, Doug and Sandra, spoke about their son’s love for basketball and his giving and caring nature. Sandra implores the audience to not hide behind a mask or a smile, but to reach out and ask for help if you are struggling. The message they hope students and spectators take away from the tournament is to take care of yourself and each other. Every life matters, and none of us are alone.
So far, this year’s tournament and silent auction has raised over $14,000 for the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.