‘Reach out to the youth around you’ and check in, says Brewster referee

May 21, 2021, 12:58 PM
youth sports...
Fans watch a high school football game on Sept. 18, 2020 in Davison, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

A couple of months ago, KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson got a very tearful phone call from Brock Huard. After a lot of silence, he shared that he had just heard that a dear friend of his oldest daughter had died from suicide in Brewster, Washington. The young man’s name was Cade Gebbers.

Brock Huard tells Cade Gebbers’ story

“Cade cared so much more about others than he did himself. He was so selfless, he was such a bright light, he was such a shining star,” Huard said.

“His dad looked at me and said you need to share his story,” Huard told Dori. “And it wasn’t out of malice, it wasn’t out of even anger, it was just out of hurt because he knows how many kids are in isolation, like Cade felt, and felt like there was just not a place to connect and not a place to share and, just an unbelievable hurt.”

Karl Word is a youth referee, who has also been doing play-by-play in the Brewster area for decades, and was very close to Cade and to the Gebbers family. Word recognized that this topic is hard to talk about, but says it’s something that we do need to confront, talk about, and deal with at times. While isolation due to the pandemic was certainly a factor and is impacting kids, it’s more than that.

“[Cade] made a permanent decision to a temporary problem, and here’s a kid who is on top of the world in every form, and I think, as Brock alluded to — we won’t dwell on that — a lot of kids did not do well with isolation that they’re facing. And I think we’ve got to sit down. I try and tell parents all the time, don’t just listen to your kids, hear what they’re saying,” Word said.

“I get kids texting me and calling me daily who just want to talk. And one day a young person called me and had a long talk with me. Five minutes later, her parent called and said, ‘why will my child talk to you and not to me?’ And I said because I built a trust with these youth over the years,” Word added. “I’m not a parent, I’m not a coach, I’m not a teacher, and I’m not a counselor, and you’ve got to listen to what your child is telling you because they’re scared to tell you what their thoughts are and what your response is going to be.”

Word says he has at least seven kids he texts every day just to ask how they are and how they’re doing.

“That’s something we all need to be aware of is there are a lot of Cades out there right now, that the kids are feeling isolated, and we’ve got to remember as adults, this whole COVID deal has hit us all hard,” Word said. “We don’t know what to do. And right now our kids have lost hope. They don’t know what future is in front of them.”

“They want to know when life is going to get back to normal,” he added.

Sadly, Word says there have been four recent youth suicides just in the Brewster area, but Word and Dori both don’t blame these tragic deaths solely on isolation or on COVID-19.

“Every time I get a phone call or I get a notice about it, it just, it tears you apart. It takes you to the core,” Word said. “Every day I try as hard as I can to get everybody to be aware and to reach out and you see these kids, talk to them, actually stop and talk to them, and kids will open up. I find out if I just ask a kid how they’re doing or what can I do for you? They’ll open up and they’ll talk to you and they’ll tell you.”

“We forget how much they have given up. They haven’t had proms, so many things we take for granted these kids haven’t had, and they’re just trying to deal with it. And we just, right now, don’t have a real strong direction for them,”  he added.

Word shared the message that it only takes seven seconds to reach out to someone, and says to use that time, reach out to a young person, talk to them and listen to what they’re saying.

“The youth is our future and they are my passion,” Word said. “We’ve got to give them every opportunity to succeed, and right now, people, reach out to the youth around you. I don’t have to know a kid to stop them and talk to them and just ask them how they’re doing. And I use a phrase all the time and it’s called, ‘I believe in you.’ Say that to the youth, it means so much to them to know that you believe in them.”

If you or someone you know needs to talk, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. The 24-hour crisis line with Crisis Connections is 866-427-4747. Washington Listens is a free, anonymous service for anyone in the state, created during the pandemic, available at 1-833-681-0211.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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‘Reach out to the youth around you’ and check in, says Brewster referee