GILE, Wis. — Four years ago, Daniel “Danny” Baross lost his battle with depression and took his life, just two months shy of his 32nd birthday. His death was shock to his family and friends.
Each year, his friends and family host a memorial softball tournament, not only to honor their lost friend and loved one, but to spread awareness of suicide prevention.
This year marked the third annual Danny B Jack and Jill Softball Tournament in Gile. The tournament was on Aug. 24, and according to co-organizer Bryan Sokolowski, the goal is to have the tournament grow bigger each year to spread awareness of suicide prevention.
“His wife Carla (Gresham) and I got the idea to do something to carry on his name,” Sokolowski said. “It was Carla’s idea for the suicide prevention.”
When coming up with an idea to honor Baross, they both knew that it had to involve sports. Baross was a former coach and referee for the Polar Bear Hockey organization, an avid Green Bay Packers, Detroit Red Wings and NASCAR fan and loved playing softball.
“Danny had also loved Jack-and-Jill tournaments, so that is what we did,” Sokolowski said.
The first tournament took place in 2011, with 13 teams participating.
Pat Gallinagh, president of the Range Suicide Prevention Council, helped with the event, and speaks before the tournament about the impacts of suicide on families and on communities.
“I am always impressed with Pat’s speeches,” Sokolowski said. “I think that they really get to people. We have heard stories from people that never had dealt with suicide until a friend or family member took their own life. Everyone has dealt with it in one way or another.”
According to Gallinagh, suicide is a daily occurrence in the U.S., with 105 people dying per day.
To help the Range Suicide Prevention Council prevent future suicides, tournament organizers donate funds each year. This year, the council received $2,284, as well as an additional donation of $375.
“Over the past three years, we have received $7,500 from this event,” Gallinagh said. “All of this is about breaking down the shroud of shame and silence and helping people.”