WOBURN - The City Council last night heralded a pair Woburn Memorial High School alumni for their steadfast commitment to the cause of suicide prevention.
At the outset of last night’s council meeting in City Hall, the aldermen unanimously adopted a resolution crediting local residents Noah Dhaliwal and Samuel Gerry for founding Woburn’s “Kick It for a Cause”, the city’s first-ever kickball tournament aimed at raising the community’s awareness around depression and suicide.
“Now therefore let it be resolved that the City of Woburn extends its sincerest and deepest thanks to Samuel Gerry and Noah Dhaliwal for their [efforts in raising suicide awareness],” proclaimed Ward 4 Alderman Joseph Demers, reading directly from the resolution before it was unanimously approved by the full council.
Proving wildly successful, the first tournament was organized by Dhaliwal and Gerry in 2019, when both charity founders were just juniors in high school.
Though COVID-19 ultimately led to the cancellation of last year’s tournament plans, the two teens refused to let their mission be sidelined. Specifically, in the stead of a large public gathering at Connolly Stadium, Gerry and Dhaliwal raised thousands of dollars from donors to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Half of the proceeds was also used to create a new scholarship.
Both college students, who graduated from WMHS last year, were treated to the enthusiastic applause of both city officials and audience members gathered in the council chambers for Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
In spite of having moved on to college, the Kick It for a Cause organizers are still leading charity efforts and plan to host the community’s second annual kickball tournament on June 26 at WMHS.
Those looking to field a team, which should consist of between eight-to-10 players, can still register by typing the charity’s website, https://kickitforacause.org, into a web browser. Individuals can also register to play in the contest as “free agents”, where they will be assigned to a team accepting other players.
A $20 registration fee must be paid in order to partake in the tournament.
Dhaliwal is currently a freshman at Boston College, while Gerry is attending Bates University. Ultimately, the inaugural 2019 Kick It Tournament featured games between more than 100 players on 16 separate teams, including a squad fielded by City Hall and local school officials.
More than 15 student volunteers also assisted, while hundreds of spectators traveled to WMHS's Connolly Stadium to partake in the free community gathering.
In the wake of the event, both Gerry and Dhaliwal were also able to meet directly with Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin to discuss a proposal to establish a suicide awareness initiative at the high school.
According to statistics compiled by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the AFSP, suicide remains ranked amongst the top 10 leading causes of death within the United States, where an average of 130 people take their lives each day.
Federal NIMH officials, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control, say suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged between 10 and 34, while it is the fourth leading cause of death for for those between 35-and-54 years old.
More concerning, according to those trying to spread awareness about the often taboo topic, is a disturbing 16-year-long trend where the total suicide rate climbed by nearly 31 percent between 2001 and 2017.