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University of Dayton shining spotlight on mental health awareness with town hall tonight

DAYTON — The University of Dayton is shining a spotlight on mental health awareness in student-athletes with a special event tonight.

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UD and CareSource will be hosting a spotlight town hall tonight at 6 at the UD Arena.

The event will honor men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant’s daughter, Jayda Grant, who passed away from suicide in 2022.

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News Center 7′s Taylor Robertson previewed the event from UD during News Center 7′s Daybreak.

The event will spotlight and drive awareness of mental health and wellness in adolescents and young adults.

The program will be highlighted by a presentation from two parents who lost their son to suicide in 2018 and later started a nonprofit mental health awareness organization called the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation.

A panel discussion that will include Coach Grant and his wife, Chris, follows the presentation.

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Robertson spoke with Aaron Gordon, assistant track and field coach at UD. He says he cannot begin to imagine how Coach Grant is feeling but is not surprised that he is stepping up to help other student-athletes.

“He’s always been a man of integrity, a man of, you know, ethics and things like that,” said Gordon. “So, I think you know, this is a really big step for him. This is a really big step for the university and just the athletics program as a whole.”

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Robertson says Jayda was on the track field team for a few months before taking a step back because of mental health issues right around the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gordon said he knew that she was struggling mentally but did not realize how much it was affecting them.

He told Robertson that he could tell their personality was changing and they began to slowly stop responding to his text messages.

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Gordon described Jayda as an extremely kind person and a hard-working athlete. They also bonded by talking about basketball and he really misses having them on the team.

“That’s one of the craziest things about mental health is you never know who it’s going to be,” Gordon told Robertson. “Just because she was always you know, a good person, you know she talks a lot and was very active in the community.”

Robertson says she and Jayda were teammates on the UD track team for a few months before her passing.

They spent a lot of grueling hours training inside the Cronin Athletics Center.

Robertson says Gordon would ask each athlete how they were feeling before practice.

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If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, there are resources available to help.

You can call or text 988 any time, day or night, to talk with a counselor.

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