Celebrating with Purposeful Giving
Today, as we remember what would have been James' 38th birthday, the JPO Foundation is honored to commemorate his legacy by awarding a series of grants to organizations dedicated to the education of healthy relationships and crisis mental health services. This year alone, we've proudly disbursed a total of $36,200 to deserving institutions, with more on the horizon.
We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the esteemed recipients:
This monumental endeavor would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our JPO sponsors, donors, and volunteers. Your commitment and generosity have been instrumental in turning our vision into reality, and for that, we are eternally grateful.
Our day began with a touching Mass in James' honor at the Oblates Chapel at St. Francis. The memories shared and sentiments expressed by Fr. O, Fr. Zobler, Fr. Rose, Joe Sweeney, and Maureen DeLaney from James' beloved school provided solace and strength to all present. In particular, Fr. O's uplifting message – reminding us that James is not gone, but simply waiting for us in heaven – brought immense comfort to our hearts.
Today, and always, we remain inspired by James' spirit and are committed to advancing the cause he held dear. As we look to the future, the JPO Foundation will continue to champion mental health awareness and education, keeping James' memory alive through our endeavors.
Thank you to everyone for standing with us on this journey of love, remembrance, and hope.
A Weekend of Tennis, Brotherhood, and Mental Health Awareness
The picturesque Graul Varsity Tennis Complex at the University of Dayton came alive on September 15th and 16th, hosting the 2nd Annual James O'Connell Memorial Tournament. With participation from the tennis powerhouses of Ball State, Xavier, Northern Kentucky, and UD, it was not just a showcase of premier collegiate tennis but also a poignant tribute to the legacy of James O'Connell.
Beyond the electrifying matches, the tournament embodied the spirit of camaraderie, sportsmanship, and unity – all hallmarks of James' life and memory. The atmosphere was thick with emotion as the UD Coach, Ryan Meyer, and James' parents, Kevin and Deb O'Connell, addressed the Friday night dinner gathering. Their heartfelt words about mental health and crisis intervention struck a chord with everyone present, including UD Women's Tennis and Golf team members.
Highlighting the dedication of the UD Athletic Department towards fostering mental well-being amongst student-athletes, the JPO Foundation proudly contributed $2,500 towards this noble initiative. It's inspiring to witness how athletic platforms are being leveraged to underscore the significance of mental health, a topic often sidelined.
Connor Bruce, UD's top singles player, eloquently summed up the event's spirit. As quoted on the UD website, he remarked, "This weekend was a great start for Flyer tennis and for an even better cause remembering former UD tennis great James O'Connell."
A special shout-out to UD Coach Ryan Meyer and the retired MSU Coach Gene Orlando – their unwavering support and dedication have been instrumental to the JPO Foundation.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to every coach, player, teammate, and friend of James who made this weekend unforgettable. Here's to more such tournaments where sports and societal change converge!
September is Suicide Prevention Month. According to the World Health Organization, one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds. As you know we lost my brother James to suicide 6 months ago. As I reflect upon the significance his death has had on myself and my family, we continue to ask ourselves what we can do to help change the reality of this terrible statistic.
One thing that I continue to hear on a regular basis from James’ countless friends, family, and coworkers is how kind, loyal, and inclusive he always was. Those qualities are something that I will continue to improve on myself, as well as instilling them into my children’s lives. This is why for the month of September the JPO Foundation is challenging you to complete 40 Acts of Kindness in memory of James. This could be volunteering for a local charity, paying for someone’s meal behind you in the drive through, mowing the grass for an elderly neighbor, donating toys to children in need, or simply going out of your way to check in on a family or friend that you haven’t seen in a while. With the pandemic continuing to surge through our country, people are feeling more isolated and hopeless than ever. A simple phone call or text is all it might take to change this outcome for another family. This pandemic has closed us off from so many people that we love. If you or someone you know is in a crisis or is struggling with their mental health, please encourage them to seek help. Notify that person’s family/friends that they are struggling and stay in contact with them to ensure their safety. Staying silent about a loved one’s mental health struggles is never the answer.
The fight to break this statistic is far from over, but I can tell you personally the fight is well worth it when you lose someone that you love.
Let’s keep James’ selfless legacy alive and help brighten someone’s day. James was the epitome of kindness and I know that he will continue to inspire us each and every day.