Aug. 12 softball tourney raises suicide prevention awareness

Though a Farmington Hills Police Department team will defend its title in Saturday’s Farmington Area Softball Tournament and Community Picnic, the daylong event isn’t all about the game.

Organizers hope to raise about $2,500 for Farmington SAFE (Suicide Awareness for Everyone) and the Graham E. Smith Memorial Fund. But Farmington Hills Mayor Ken Massey said the primary goal is mental health and suicide prevention awareness.

“This community needs to take that seriously,” he said.

Massey and his wife, Katharine, launched the Memorial Fund after their 27-year-old son, Graham, took his own life in 2011. It supports Farmington SAFE, which organizes community conversations and awareness events.

Ken Massey said over the years, those activities have made a difference.

“Since its inception…people (who have mental health issues) are calling and reaching out earlier,” he said. “We’ve had a 42 percent increase in the number of people petitioned into the hospital.”

Rookies take the field

The Aug. 12 event in Founders Sports Park, 35500 W. Eight Mile Rd., begins with an opening ceremony at 9 a.m. Therapy Choirs of Michigan will sing the National Anthem, and Miss Farmington 2017 Summer Badrak will throw out the first pitch. Family activities will include tours of police cruisers and fire trucks, and a bounce house. Food and beverages will be sold on-site.

New this year: A rookie team representing Farmington and Farmington Hills city councils and the Farmington Public Schools Board of Education.

“It’s wonderful to see the entire community come together to raise awareness for an illness that is so often misunderstood,” said Farmington Hills council member Samantha Steckloff.

Also on the “electeds” team will be school board trustees Angie Smith and Jim Stark, mayor Bill Galvin and city council member Sara Bowman representing Farmington, and from Farmington Hills, Massey and council members Theresa Rich and Randy Bruce.

“It’s exciting to see our community representatives join together to show our support for such a great cause,” said Stark. “One of my goals since joining the School Board last year has been to work to improve communications between our organizations, and efforts like this are both enjoyable and helps bring us a bit closer.”

Correction: Angie Smith was inadvertently omitted from the list of elected team members in the original version of this post.