We are the champions

The team, the Realcholics, came out on top as the winners of the Always for Andy soccer tournament fundraiser. To keep with the team’s wishes, names have not be published. Courtesy photo

OSGOODE – Mental health issues are prevalent all around us, but too few people talk openly about it. The fundraiser Always for Andy aimed to bring awareness to the issue in their inaugural soccer tournament held Sat., July 20 at the Osgoode Library soccer field.

Whether it’s the fast paced nature of our society, family issues, debt or any other number of factors, depression is something that can make an individual feel that they are climbing an insurmountable hill.

On May 26, 2018, Andy Cameron’s hill, sadly, became too steep for him to manage after battling his mental illness for many years, Cameron took his life.

A total of eight teams of approximately 90 players came out to support the cause of mental health in the memory of Andy Cameron, who sadly passed away from suicide May 26, 2018. Glover photo

“Andy [Cameron] was an incredibly kind person,” said Chris Vizena, a close friend of Cameron’s. “He was just a very sweet person.”

Growing up, Cameron always had a love for the game of soccer, and he wanted to share that love in any way he could on the field. Without showing a competitive or unsportsmanlike attitude, he wanted to ensure that everyone had a fair shot at the game.

“I remember him the way that he was on the field because it was very similar to how he was off the field,” said Vizena. “I played a lot of soccer with him and he was incredibly skilled but he wouldn’t show that very often because he was much more interested in including everyone else in the game. He didn’t care about winning, he passed to everybody and he just wanted everyone to have a good time.”

It was a result of this love for the sport that the idea for the Always for Andy soccer tournament arose. After Andy’s passing, Vizena reconnected with an old friend who helped him organize an event.

“At Andy’s funeral, I reconnected with Meagan Burnside-Holmes, who I hadn’t seen since high school,” he said. “For a living, she is a fundraiser; she works for a charity in Toronto and she organizes events. We were kind of each other’s support through Andy’s passing and I guess the idea just came to the two of us that this is something we could do that Meagan has a skill set in.”

Vizena and Burnside- Holmes wanted to keep Cameron’s memory alive with a soccer tournament fundraiser for all of Cameron’s friends and family to come out and enjoy a day of friendly competition. A total of eight teams played with approximately 90 players registered; some players were friends Cameron knew all the way back in high school over a decade ago.

The fundraiser managed to raise an impressive total of $7,254.41 for the Royal Ottawa Hospital. After the success of this event, Vizena ensures that he will be bringing back the tournament next year, turning it into an annual event.

“Andy’s dad did express to me his gratitude about how many people there were in support of the cause and how many people gave their time, came out of their summer months to do something in Andy’s memory,” he said. “I’m surprised how many people came out, we were very pleased with the turnout and it was just great to see the positive energy from everyone having fun to support the cause and do something in Andy’s memory.”

Anyone who is still interested in donating to the charity can do so by contacting alwaysforandy@gmail.com.

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