After last week’s blog, I realized that I did not fully explain where the PITCrew message came from and the concept of the PITCrew Club.
Three years ago, on December 14, 2014, my best friend from high school’s son died by suicide. His name was Logan and he was 14 years old. This broke my heart… I was devastated. Even though I was not close to Logan, I knew him and would have never thought that this would be a decision that he would have chosen. As we learned more about his suicide and began hearing about other teen suicides, Doug and I knew that we needed to do something about it. We could not sit by the sidelines and watch other teenagers make this permanent decision. I knew what it was like to feel hopeless, wanting to give up and quit, and yet I was so thankful that I held on and made it to the other side where I saw hope and a life worth living. Because of this, we set out to formulate a plan that could help teenagers/adolescents. A common theme that we immediately began to see was the fact that those who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts were feeling like they were alone. They felt that no one cared and that no one would miss them if they were gone. This was something that Logan felt and in seeing the grief and loss that his mom and family had to go through, I saw that he was severely mistaken. Logan was not alone but never reached out for help. It was here that the PITCrew Movement was born.
The sport of NASCAR is the second leading sport in our nation outside of the NFL. In looking at how this sport utilizes the pit crew team, we began to see the importance of sharing this concept. The driver in the race cannot win without this team… It’s physically impossible. He purposely sets up a team to support him and help him to win the race. In real life, I’ve seen this in my journey. I would not be where I am today without this team of people and I believe everyone needs their own PITCrew team. We cannot do life alone! It was here that we wanted to teach youth how to build their own PITCrew and to remind them that they are never alone.
As this concept and movement began to grow we saw the need for a PITCrew Club in schools. This is a student led club that allows students to work together to not only promote a suicide prevention/awareness message but to create a culture where it’s okay to ask for help and youth are not afraid to talk about their struggles. We began a pilot group of the PITCrew Club at St. Croix Central High School after I spoke to both their middle and high school in 2016. In the beginning, Doug and I attended their monthly meetings to get this off the ground and help them with ideas. As they began the new school year in 2017, we gave the reins over to them and let them take ownership in this. Like any club, they have officers, duties and expectations. Over the last year we have seen many things happen.
Last May, the PITCrew Club hosted a suicide prevention week where we had Emmy, Logan’s mom speak to the students, students wore yellow ribbons, and they participated in a balloon release in memory of those who have died by suicide and those who still struggle.
This school year, the PITCrew club has accomplished many things along with designing a bulletin board in the hallway of the school showing statistics on suicide creating awareness and education to the student body.
When Doug and I visited last month, during their monthly meeting, they had been working on a project for Valentine’s Day. The PITCrew club wanted every student in the school to feel loved on Valentine’s Day and so they decided to make personal Valentines. The school counselor put together a spreadsheet with every student’s name and the club split up the student body so that each person would get a personal note on their locker. Doug and I were so excited about this project! Wednesday, February 14, 2018 I was home working all day. Many times, the thought crossed my mind of how it was going at St. Croix Central High School with the Valentine project. Early in the evening, my friend Rachel reached out to me to tell me about the school shooting in Florida. My heart broke in seeing another school suffer such tragedy and loss. Just as I was losing heart at the future of our schools, I began to receive pictures from a student at St. Croix Central showing me what the PITCrew Club had accomplished that day. As I realized what these pictures were, my heart was flooded with joy and tears came from my eyes as I realized that even in darkness there is always light. I saw lockers filled with personal notes and students taking the time to put them up. I saw love being spread and lights being lit as people would know they were valued and loved. I shared the pictures and what I saw on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. My post on Facebook alone, reached over 25,000 people and was shared 165 times. People are looking for hope… The PITCrew Club and Movement was created to give them that.
This is what the PITCrew Movement is all about. We want the PITCrew Movement and the PITCrew Club to be all across this nation in our schools to make change and to create a more positive atmosphere and lasting change. Let me know if you have any questions or if you are interested in us bringing this to your school.