When 19-year old Samuel Gerry played for the American Junior Golf Association, he had the opportunity to raise money for a cause that mattered to him. He decided to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In doing so, he shared his experiences with depression and suicidal ideation with the world for the first time. “I was afraid of how people would view me because of what I said,” he said. “Instead of negativity, I received an outpouring of support, even from people I would have never guessed had gone through what I had.”
“Too often, those who struggle through these disorders are left in the darkness by society.”
Through this experience, Samuel realized just how much stigma exists around mental health disorders. He decided he wanted to continue using his voice to advocate for mental health issues. “Too often, those who struggle through these disorders are left in the darkness by society,” he said. “They are expected to deal with these horrors on their own. Just the thought of someone having to go through that breaks my heart.”
Now, he’s combining his love for sports and passion for mental health advocacy and teaming up with other Gen Z’ers to continue his fundraising efforts.
Samuel is the founder of Kick It for a Cause, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for suicide prevention, mental health, and more. Each year, Samuel and his co-founder host an annual soccer tournament to raise money for suicide prevention and awareness. He uses his platform to advocate for mental health education and support for those who are currently struggling.
As an exceptional Gen Z'er making an impact, Samuel was honored for his work in the Mental Health space through The ConversationaLIST. He hopes to encourage other young people to realize the power of their voice, no matter how small they might feel. “Keep fighting, and keep pushing,” he said. “There will be times where you will [have] regret, where things will not go your way, but that is all part of the process.”
“Keep fighting, and keep pushing. There will be times where you will [have] regret, where things will not go your way, but that is all part of the process.”
When Samuel isn’t working on his non-profit or other mental health advocacy, he’s spending time with his family.“My identity revolves around my family,” he said. “I am in an extremely privileged position to have loving parents and siblings, and I do not take that for granted.”
Looking ahead to the future, Samuel hopes to become a clinical psychologist or sociologist. He also plans to continue working on Kick it for a Cause, Inc. “I can say with certainty that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I am excited to see where this journey takes me,” he said.
Samuel identifies with the Conversationalist’s missions to unify the world and amplify the voices of young people. “I think that, as young people, we are expected to sit in silence and repress our thoughts and opinions because we may not have as much experience as our elders,” he said. “As a result, we feel like our voices have no meaning when the opposite is the case.”
"We feel like our voices have no meaning when the opposite is the case.”
He believes that everyone has equal opportunities to find success and receive respect in a unified world. He hopes to see Gen Z work toward this goal through kindness and understanding. “While it is certainly important to be assertive when advocating for topics you are passionate about, you have to be a good person,” he said. “If not, you will struggle to gain support.”
Amid the pandemic, Samuel encourages young people to connect with others for support.“If you feel like you lack resources at home, reach out to a friend,” he said. “A true friend will never find you annoying when asking for help.”
Thank you to Samuel Gerry for all he does to advocate for mental health awareness and make his community feel less alone. Keep up with him on Instagram and learn how to get involved with Kick it for a Cause, Inc.
Come hang out with Samuel and all of our LIST honorees! Join us in Geneva and follow The Conversationalist on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to stay up to date with all of our future events.