Parents of Tyler Hilinski launch effort to help student athletes

May 29, 2018, 3:18 PM
Tyler Hilinski...
Quarterback Tyler Hilinski. (AP file photo)
(AP file photo)

Friends and family who knew Tyler Hilinski never suspected that the popular Washington State University student and talented football player was secretly suffering from depression.

RELATED: WSU’s Tyler Hilinski remembered as genuine, well-liked

“In a nutshell, Tyler was the happiest kid I ever had met,” Tyler’s mom, Kym Hilinski, told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

The 21-year-old quarterback committed suicide at his Pullman apartment in January. Police found Hilinski, along with a rifle and a note, during a welfare check after he failed to show up for practice.

The news astounded Cougars fans throughout the Pacific Northwest who knew Tyler only as the smiling guy on the football field. No one, however, was more shocked and devastated than Tyler’s family. Kym was admitted to the emergency room after hearing the horrible news.

“You get a call like that — it takes you to a place you don’t ever think your mind or body can go,” Kym said.

Kym said that she has gone through the loss of parents and other family members, but none of these pains compared to losing her child — especially in a manner so unexpected.

“I can tell you that there were no signs,” Kym said. “He never showed any signs of depression — he never really got upset.”

She pointed out that the family had spent a week in a hotel suite together shortly before Tyler’s death. The college athlete seemed in good spirits, and if anything was troubling him, he didn’t bring it up to his parents.

“He took losing really hard, so that might have been a piece of it,” said Kym, who has talked to a variety of some of the country’s top sports psychology specialists across the country since January.

In her talks, Kym found that “there are a lot of stressors out there for kids, especially student athletes.” This gave Tyler’s family an idea for how to turn their grief into a positive, life-changing force for other kids.

To honor Tyler’s memory and ensure that he keeps helping and inspiring other athletes for years to come, the Hilinski family founded Hilinski’s Hope, a nonprofit that aims to “erase the stigma that’s associated with mental illness,” “raise awareness” of disorders such as anxiety and depression, and “fund programs that promote student athletes and their mental health,” according to Kym.

“If we talk about mental illness and mental health the same way we talk about other diseases that kill people, it will change the narrative,” she said. “We’ll look at things differently, and if people grow up with that, it won’t have that stigma.”

Hilinski’s Hope will work with schools, conducting trainings for athletes to spot signs of depression in their teammates, educating students on types of mental illnesses, and giving them the means to seek treatment.

“I know if we can help one person, Tyler will be proud of us,” Kym said, adding, “He’s going to live on through our hearts, our memories, and through Hilinski’s Hope.”



Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

Dori Monson Show

Dori Monson

state capitol, House...
Dori Monson

Dori: Keep an eye on scores of anti-gun bills in Olympia

State lawmakers consider nearly 30 anti-gun bills, some of which attempt to bypass a statute which preserves uniform gun laws in the state.
1 day ago
Crime, hit and run...
Dori Monson

Dori: Soft on crime policies from state Dems have tragic consequences

Washington state Democrats in the Legislature have made it open season for car thefts and the tragic consequences that can ensue.
1 day ago
Inslee, climate, vaccine requirements, election fraud...
Dori Monson Show

Gov. Inslee could be in ‘early stages of another presidential run,’ political watchdog theorizes

Gov. Jay Inslee is giving a political watchdog reason to believe he is considering a bid for the 2024 U.S. presidential election.
2 days ago
Western Washington University Viking...
Dori Monson

Dori: Is Western Washington University’s Viking mascot getting the woke boot?

He’s male. He’s Scandinavian. He’s considered by some as “too masculine” and “too aggressive.” And now, he might be getting canned.
5 days ago
plows, vaccine mandates...
Dori Monson

Dori: WSDOT’s snowplow service refusal over vaccine mandates ‘unbelievable,’ lawmaker says

State Sen. Curtis King joins the Dori Monson Show to discuss how COVID vaccine mandates may have impacted WSDOT's recent trials at the state passes.
6 days ago
Ronnie Spector...
Dori Monson

Dori’s tribute to the late Ronnie Spector: ‘She’s got one of the sexier lines in rock ‘n roll history’

When CBS News broke the story about the passing of the iconic singer Ronnie Spector today, I was so sad.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Parents of Tyler Hilinski launch effort to help student athletes