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Golf tournament battles teen depression and suicide

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In its second year, the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation and charity golf are gaining momentum with a partnership with the Fairmont Chateau Whistler

WHAT: The Kelty Dennehy Foundation "Drive Fore Life" Charity Golf Tournament.

WHERE: Fairmont Chateau Whistler hotel and golf course

WHEN: Sept. 20 to 21

For Kerry Dennehy, the battle against teen depression and suicide has always been a personal one. His son Kelty Dennehy took his own life in March of 2001 at the age of 17, leaving behind questions, regrets, and grief.

"You can’t imagine the circle, the web of grief, that something like this creates," said Kerry.

Kerry was also amazed by the way teen suicide is treated in Canada – as a private, almost shameful, secret. There was not much open dialogue or meaningful study into the causes of teen depression, which made them more difficult to prevent.

The fact that teen suicide does not follow any pattern – it affects the rich, the poor, youth from different cultures, popular kids, unpopular kids, athletes, A-students – suggested to Kerry that there was more to teen depression.

His family created the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation to raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem, and the effects it can have on individuals and society.

The foundation will take a leadership role, according to the group’s mission statement, "in education, effective treatments, and the research effort." The goal is to raise $2 million to set up a research chair at a Canadian university, funding research into causes, treatments and cures for teen depression and suicide.

Currently the flagship event for the foundation is their Drive Fore Life Charity Golf Tournament, which is entering its second year.

Last year’s inaugural event helped raise more than $100,000 for the foundation. Last November, Kerry and Ginny Dennehy, Kelty’s mother, signed a cheque for $150,000 which was put towards the newly created Centre of Excellence for Depression Research at the UBC / Vancouver General Hospital.

This year’s tournament will be held at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which committed to hosting the fundraiser for the next three years.

According to Kevin Toth, the general manager for the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, the decision to back the tournament – committing substantial resources and closing the golf course for a day during a busy season – was made with the community in mind.

"Kelty was a member of this community, and he worked at this golf course part-time," he said. "He was a valued individual, and so there’s this connection between Kelty and the Fairmont Cheateau."

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