CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Central High School football players have put a special sticker on their helmets. They’re for Mission 22, and they’re meant to raise awareness for veteran suicide.
One of their players brought it up to the coach at the beginning of the season. His uncle was a veteran and committed suicide in the spring. Now the whole team is supporting the cause.
“The 22 stands for, every day in America, 22 veterans commit suicide,” said Ian Asklund, senior. “And their goal is to try and get that to zero.”
It started because Asklund wanted to support his family. He was asking if he could do it alone.
“It was 100%, ‘Coach, can I have this sticker on my helmet?'” said Asklund.
But Coach Tim Turner said he wanted them to do it as a team.
“I did a little bit of research on it myself, and after doing that research, it was a no brainer, that it’s definitely something we wanted to bring light to,” said Turner.
He wanted the players on his team to understand why they were doing it.
“His dad and his uncle came out and talked through this Mission 22, and explained why it meant something to them,” said Turner. “And it turned out they had a brother who passed away recently, took his own life.”
Asklund is thankful his team has his back in more ways than one.
“It makes me feel blessed, first of all, and makes me feel welcomed,” said Asklund. “And that they’re also my family and that boys will go into battle with me like they do every Friday night and they’ll support me of the field just as much as on the field.”
Coach Turner said the team has two focuses: building relationships and community service. He knows by bringing attention to this cause, they’re doing their part.