“Conner passed away five years ago, and it took us a couple of years to get our bearings. Until he passed away, we didn’t know what he was going through. In his letter he left us, he said, ‘I had a great life. You gave me everything I needed to succeed in life, but these demons are just too much.’
We had no idea. He was a 4.0 student, he had a baseball scholarship, he had his life planned out. So when this happened, we were like, ‘No, not Connor.’ Conner was the person everybody went to when they needed help. He was the person that stood up in school for kids if they were getting bullied or if they were sitting alone in the lunch room. He looked at people outside the box.
In his letter to all of us, he challenged us to make the world a better place. When tragedy hits, that’s when you really have to open your eyes and look and say, ‘There is the stuff going on and we all need to get together and do something about it.’ We had to step back and see there are so many kids out there struggling that we don’t even know about. We started looking through a different set of eyes and we were like, we’ve got to do something.
We partner with Johnson County Mental Health and Sources of Strength — we help fund these in our community. We go and talk to baseball teams, softball teams, the Boy Scouts, and our message is, ‘It’s OK to talk about this issue.’ If we can help one person, then we have done our job and we’ve made one person live another day.
I think it’s hard for teens to open up. And so we always say, if you wake up one day and you think you’re fine, and then all of a sudden you get that funny feeling, it’s OK to go tell somebody. It’s OK not to be OK.”
Marcy and Mike Taylor founded Change 4 Conner to honor their son Conner and encourage young adults to make a difference in the world while learning about the reality of mental illness. Learn more about their important mission and work at Change4Conner.org.