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Leadership in Action: Scholarships for Athletes in British Columbia

The Rick Blight Scholarship 
Born in Oakville, Manitoba in 1955, Rick Blight had a long career as an exceptional athlete, selected by the Vancouver Canucks 10th overall in the 1st round of the 1975 NHL draft. Rick experienced both highs and lows over his career. He was a top scorer for the Canucks during his first three years in the NHL, leading the team in scoring in the ’76-’77 season. Rick was a well known businessman, running his family's tractor and implementation business. He was also an avid golfer and curler.  He was very proud of his children’s accomplishments, his son is a teacher and his daughter is a registered nurse. Rick died by suicide in 2005 at the age of 49, leaving his wife, children and 4 grandchildren to cherish his memory.
 
In tribute to Rick’s life, Jack.org is facilitating the Rick Blight Leadership in Action Scholarship for Athletes as a means to recognize the presence of mental wellness within athletics. Athleticism has the potential to be incredibly life promoting. It can also be competitive and prioritize physical wellness at the expense of mental and emotional well-being. 
 
The Rick Blight Scholarship seeks to recognize athletes who have demonstrated both a dedication to leadership in their sport and ongoing investment in their personal mental wellness and/or that of their sports team or community. Actions in support of one’s personal mental wellness and/or that of their sports team or community may be demonstrated through acts such as visiting a mental health professional, encouraging peers to reach out when in need, involving oneself in emotionally-sustaining community activities, supporting anti-stigma efforts, or attending community events mandated to promote mental wellness.
 
There are five scholarships of $1,000 and three scholarships of $500 available with funding generously provided by the Canucks Alumni Association and Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group.
 
The Kevin Bieksa Scholarship - In memory of Rick Rypien
Born in Grimsby, Ontario, Kevin was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft while completing his Bachelor degree at Bowling Green State University. Having played over 800 NHL games, mostly with the Vancouver Canucks, Kevin also represented Canada twice on the world hockey stage – first in 2014 as the Canadian captain at the World Hockey Championships , followed by the 2018 Spengler Cup. Known as a two-way defenceman, Kevin was a favourite with Canuck fans, notably for his physical and intense play.  
 
During his years with both the Manitoba Moose and the Vancouver Canucks, Kevin became close friends with teammate Rick Rypien, who, in 2011, took his young life after fighting years of clinical depression. During Rick’s struggles, Kevin and his family were always nearby, and to this day Kevin still honours Rick by noting “Rick’s story is one that I don’t want to go away.”  Kevin truly knows and respects the meaning of ‘teammate’ while also understanding through Rick’s eyes the importance of mental wellness.
 
The Kevin Bieksa Scholarship, in memory of Rick Rypien, seeks to recognize those athletes who demonstrate not just a dedication to leadership in their respective sport but also an ongoing investment in their own personal mental wellness within their sports team or community, with actions such as attending community events mandated to promote mental wellness.
 
There is one scholarship of $1,000 available with funding generously provided by Pooni Group (Vancouver, BC). The President of Pooni Group, Gary Pooni, is a proud supporter of mental health advocacy due to family history.
 
By completing the application, you will be considered for both the Rick Blight Scholarships and the Kevin Bieksa Scholarship In Memory of Rick Rypien.
 
ELIGIBILITY
  • Demonstrating your committment to personal mental wellness and/or that of your sports team, or community;
  • Demonstrating a dedication to your sport; and
  • Currently enrolled in Grade 12 at a high school in British Columbia.
PROCESS
The online application is the first in a two-stage process. If you are selected for the second stage, you will be required to submit a short video or audio recording talking about yourself, why mental health is important to you and how you contribute to the mental wellbeing of your community. By completing this application process, you will be eligible for all nine available scholarships.
 
The deadline for online applications is Friday, March 12, 2021 at 5pm PST.

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