Hockey has always been there for Zee Hamilton. Not only as a release system, but as a support system as well.
“Hockey has always been an outlet. You have 18 other guys that are relying on you. You realize you have to get up and get out to be there for the team,” said Hamilton.
On March 28, 2019, Hamilton and Lights Out YYC will be hosting Never Skate Alone, a charity hockey game and concert featuring a roster of NHL Alumni, SAIT Trojans Alumni, current Trojans and others who are showing up to support mental health and CMHA Calgary.
Hamilton, one of the founders of Lights Out YYC has dealt with mental health issues most of his life. Now, Hamilton wants to do his part to bring awareness so people know there is always someone around to help out.
“I was in and out of the bar industry and that is not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. While I respect the bar industry and have met some great people, it wasn’t the industry for me. Doing stuff like Never Skate Alone has always been something I have been heavily involved in,” explained Hamilton.
From a young age, Hamilton has enjoyed putting together events to support those in need. In junior high, he held his first fundraiser to support those effected by the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and has been looking for more ways to help since.
Dealing with his own mental health issues, Hamilton has been searching for ways to make sure that if he can help it, we should never have to feel alone. This is where the idea of hosting Never Skate Alone came from.
Hamilton said the team aspect serves as a comfort for those involved and knowing a group of people there on a constant basis can be a saving grace for some.
“With my rec league team we have been together for years and together we have been through a lot. They’ve been there for me and I’ve been there for them,” said Hamilton.
Reaching out to CMHA for support with Never Skate Alone, Hamilton and the Lights Out YYC team found great resources to support those dealing with a mental health or substance use concern, something he had no idea about until a google search brought him to CMHA Calgary’s website.
“I hadn’t heard of CMHA until I googled Calgary mental health associations. I filled out an event proposal. Kyle [Fund Develop Coordinator at CMHA Calgary] and I got in touch, I told him my idea and we hit it off.”
“I’ll never forget reaching out to CMHA. It has been fantastic, everyone has been super supportive,” said Hamilton
With Never Skate Alone just a few days away, the reception has been amazing for those who want to support such an incredible event. Not only is it unique, it’s a cause that everyone can get on board with. Hamilton and Lights Out YYC partner and best friend Joseph Copeland, want to make mental health a conversation that is popular on every day of the year.
“It sucks feeling alone. When it feels like you don’t have any other options and feel ashamed to reach out it’s not good. There is a bunch of support for mental health on days like Bell Let’s Talk, but when it comes to the other days of the year it seems like it flies under the radar. We want to change that with events like Never Skate alone.”
For more information on Never Skate Alone and to purchase tickets click here.