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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

Mental Health Awareness Week


By Fred Wallace


The local chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association put a spotlight on Mental Health Awareness Week by having former Toronto Maple Leaf Ron Ellis speak at Tuscany's last week in Owen Sound.

I'd heard Ron Ellis speak once before, back in 1991 at Stone Tree, and it's obvious to me there's been remarkable progress in his abilities to speak, to communicate, to entertain and to inform.

The secret for Ron Ellis when he speaks is that the audience is well aware they're hearing from an authority, from someone who was there.

When Ron Ellis talks about joining the Toronto Maple Leafs you appreciate the tingle that he experience.

By comparison, when Ron Ellis talks about sitting in his car in a parking garage in the mid 80's for hours at a time, essentially hiding from the world, unable to function, you understand that grip that poor mental health had on him.

And that's why I liked Ron Ellis and the spectrum he covered.

The highs and joys of a Stanley Cup victory and the Team Canada 72 experience, juxtaposed in a life that that also included hospitalization and a family dealing with the illness.

Ron Ellis was there. For all of it.

And he's still there.

As I waited in a short line to congratulate him on the speech and get my lunch ticket autographed, the person in front of me was obviously explaining to him, how close to home his speech was.

In the end, knowingly, Ron Ellis nodded and hugged the person, hoping comfort & support, both near and far would help, truly knowing from his own experience, how tough a battle mental wellness is.

I'm Fred Wallace


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