Parents and caregivers share highlights of the discussion:
-One highlight of our discussion is how moved my child was at how quickly seemingly innocent fun can go wrong and how it shouldn’t have been perceived as innocent fun to begin with but rather harmful.
-We had never talked about alcohol or drug use at all with our son, other than to say “don’t do it”. It made us realize that we were acting the same way our parents did- and that was not an effective approach. It really opened our eyes to what we are missing in terms of this topic.
-The honesty with which we all talked about our reflections. The realization how well we can communicate when we put our minds to it.
-Our daughters really seemed to be touched by these stories. Asked us questions they probably never would have.
-It was very validating to have it in the context of real-life experiences of other people. Seeing a young girl so close in age, with the pictures of her friends made it more real – and not just me talking at her like a worry-wart.
There wasn’t a particular highlight from the discussion, but that night and the next day my son would keep bringing up things that Kathi and Chris spoke of and shared that it moved him and he felt sorry for the family and all that they have endured. I know it has left an impact.
I think that it was just great to see the things my kids thought about it and the way they talked to each other about it. I think it really affected them and hopefully they’ll make that call if they ever get in a similar situation as Taylor.
– It was a green light that these things do happen to regular good kids.
My son said that this was the most powerful presentation that he has ever been to and that he felt like every student at Leland and Gray who participates in the Refuse to Use program should see this presentation. I proceeded to share that with the administration at L&G.
It was an opportunity for me to share personal, relatable stories from my own teen-hood, and remind Oliver that he can rely on my unconditional love in hard moments.
The whole talk was so powerful. What an incredible family to embrace the tragedy and stay open to the possibilities that continue to unfold as they share Taylor’s story. A particular highlight was realizing how to present Taylor still is in her mother’s life. Another highlight was hearing Kathy and Chris’s story of their meeting and hearing about their life together.
I think the highlight from our discussion was that we don’t see eye to eye on some things but we need to work together to both get what we want so we can both be happy.
-It’s hard to pick a highlight me when I think about the pain this family endured. I am amazed about Kathi’s strength and positivity. And amazed about how honest Chris spoke about his dark days.
Parents and caregivers on what they personally will take away from the discussion:
-I think that it was just great to see the things my kids thought about it and the way they talked to each other about it. I think it really affected them and hopefully they’ll make that call if they ever get in a similar situation as Taylor.
-I think the more tools a child has to succeed the better. judging by my son’s reaction to some important parts of the presentation he found some tools…
-I will take away the importance of living with an open heart and positive mindset, even when things get tough. I will make sure I surround myself with friends that I can count on.
I will be more prepared to set expectations for my child when she is out with friends. She will be required to check in and respond to my requests when I check in on her.
The biggest thing in my mind that has stuck with me, is when Kathi said ” One decision changed the whole direction of that night.” Chris ‘s part also hit home as we have a daughter dealing with addiction. To see him be able to take control really gave us hope that our daughter can do it too. Also, Chris’s description of himself, “good kid, never got in trouble” I feel like that is my son, and I have always felt safe in that description of him but I can’t let my guard down. Also, making sure I know how to reach his friends, that part never really crossed my mind, being in such a small town.
Such a wonderful presentation, I attended to be there for my son, but I walked away with so much more.
My take-away from Kathi’s portion would be to make sure there is a certain amount of accountability as to where your child is and what company they are keeping. Knowing who your child’s close friends are is important. From Chris- Definitely the classic “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Just because someone looks like they have it together and think they are in control; does not mean they are not susceptible to something that “low life” people would have an issue with. Addiction is addiction.
Taylor story really stuck out and made an impact on me because it’s every mothers worst nightmare, I feel lots of empathy for her mother and family. Makes me realize I have to cherish every moment, you never realize when the last time could be you see someone you love.
Thank you for this heartfelt presentation. I really felt Kathi and Chris were earnest and well, human. I did not expect to be so moved. Honestly, I was glad it was a remote presentation because I was crying! Thanks to both of you for opening your hearts and sharing your stories. I’m taking away a deep appreciation for Kathy, Chris and the DVCP for making this opportunity happen–It felt like last night was about a lot more than skiing! Remembering and being responsible to our community and family is so very important.
The presentation made me realize how many people are involved when tragedy hits. It wasn’t just Taylor’s decisions that led to her death. It was a chain of events involving many. I will take away that I can affect outcomes by opening up communication, and also by being willing to say something to another parent even if I know it will be uncomfortable.
I remember Kathi from 2014, when I attended the Choose Snow event with my daughter. Of all the stories speakers have told on the Mount Snow stage over the years, hers (and Taylor’s) is the one I still think about nearly every day. She’s the reason I have my kids’ friends’ phone numbers, and she’s the reason I have the Life360 tracker that drives my children crazy. Kathi‘s (and Taylor’s) message has been with me for six years, and I know I will never forget either of them.
Students share what they personally will take away from the presentation:
-They have impacted me with their stories and I will always remember them. When somebody asks me to do alcohol and drugs your stories will be in my mind and my answer will be no.
We discussed why it’s important for my parents to stay involved and keep tabs on me as it can be another way of them showing that they care and can help So we can make a stronger relationship. And I know they will be doing this because they care about me.
I feel like abusing substances may feel like it’s helping in the moment but it’s really damaging in the long run. It’s something I personally experienced via what was happening to friends (the damage that was caused).
Getting to hear a grown adult talk about their struggles with mental health and how they have grown and how they continue to grow really helped.
It put things in better perspective – seeing the pictures of Taylor made it more real. Maybe my mom does know a few things lol.
I suppose I haven’t thought about how fast things can spiral from the top to the bottom; the stereotype for substance abuse is someone living in poverty person, but that really isn’t always the case. Addiction can be brought on by a number of reasons, most of them likely having to do with emotions.
To be really carful in watching yourself. There might be a tempting moment to try alcohol or drugs one day and I will remember this “Choose Snow Presentation and think of Chris, Kathi and Taylor and her brothers. And I will be grateful to them. It’s not worth it and you don’t need any of it to fit in, be cool or have fun.
Your presentation really showed me to live life to the fullest and to always be cautious about the decisions you make.
Hearing someone talk about their struggles with mental health was interesting because it is not something people talk about a lot and is not something you can always see in people. It was also interesting to hear him speak about how he currently struggles and deals with it.
I finally figured out why my mom has Life 360. I hate being tracked, but we talked about what it would feel like to not know where your kid is for three days. I still don’t think I’ll have it if I have kids, though.
I always thought if I talked to my parents about certain things, they would get mad. After talking to my parents, it seems like they really do care about my feelings.
Note: The themes of these comments were shared repeatedly- obviously had an impact! Here are just some of the examples:
1) How powerful the pull of addiction is:
Chris’ story was very powerful. Especially, seeing the photo of him sitting alone at the stand, having just won the Super Bowl, and listening to him share that at that moment he was miserable and only had thought on how to get to the hotel room so he could get the next pain pill.
Chris’s story was really sad. He lost out on 12 years of his life, it seems, and millions of dollars to keep up a habit he hated because he tried a pill one time to make himself feel better, thinking he was stronger than opiates.
The realization that a pill could be more important that a Superbowl win, speaks to the depth of addiction.
Really like that it wasn’t just about substance use and that Chris added his experience with mental health and related to substance use. I hope this will help reduce the stigma against mental health amongst children in these peer groups.
I appreciated the football player saying that he felt anxious and insecurities which showed we can all feel that way, and need to practice safe coping methods.
Understanding how anxiety and keeping things bottled up inside can be isolating and escalate mental illness. Being aware of the importance of being the bad guy. in order to set expectations.
With my son, cracking the door to discuss the danger of not dealing with depression and anxiety. (We lost their father to suicide 19 months ago and my son still won’t talk about the loss.)
I took away the fact that I need to keep track of my kids’ social media and emotions in order to make sure they are safe at all times and feeling well.
“Give me your social media.”
I also took away the fact that I need to keep track of my kids’ social media and emotions in order to make sure they are safe at all times and feeling well.
We will make sure our kids know they can call us anytime of the day or night and we will come get them or their friends. It’s important that they know that if that happens, we won’t yell at them, but we will talk to them about their choices.
We talked about how important she is in my life and how devastated I would be if anything ever happened to her or any of her friends. That I will help no matter what the situation. She can always get help from me any time of day or night.
I cried! This was such a powerful story. I have told my daughter that I will help her, pick her up, drive her, let her use me as an excuse to not go to a place she feels uncomfortable but this gave me a chance to talk to her about this again. Her best friend was also at this presentation so now we can all talk about helping each other and seeking out an adult for help.
The highlight of this conversation was me just telling them that they can always call me about anything, or if a friend is in trouble, they can also call me.
The highlight of our discussion was when my parents shared that they would always be available no matter how much I messed up.
To be the parent not the friend. To be watching always… pay attention. Talk with your kids. Let them know to call you no matter what.
Keep communication open with your kids, their friends…, don’t try to be their friends & to savor every moment
I also think that it is important to remember that piece about being a parent, not a ‘friend,’ although I am very close to my kids and I do think we have a friendly relationship. I realized that I don’t have to feel as bad for saying no because we aren’t supposed to be their friends and supposed to keep them safe. I will now be a stricter parent and my kids know that they can always call and I will help them no matter the situation. (97)
5) Get friends names and numbers-mentioned many times!
We also hadn’t thought about having all of our son’s friend’s numbers, so we will be doing that right away!
Misc. additional comments at the end of the survey:
Note: There were many, many folks saying thank-you.
Thank you for opening yourselves to others and sharing you experiences so that others may learn for them and possibly save ourselves heartache.
After listening my daughter commented that this presentation should be shared with all kids, regardless of ski tickets. Very powerful!
My kids were spooked that the mom went into so much detail about Tay and the day leading up to her death. I told them I thought it really cemented the reality in all of our minds, something we will never forget!
Thank you for putting this together. These are hard conversations to have but it reminds us why they are so important.
I really want to thank the presenters for putting themselves out there and sharing very real, very hard stories with us. I could really relate to Chris’ story and it was good to hear it from another person. Thank you.
This is the most powerful presentation I have ever been a part of. The positive message these two people can portray even after each suffering so much is incredible.
I remember seeing the story of Taylor on the news and thinking how sad it was. Now that I have a senior and two other children, I cried through the entire presentation. I wish we could have seen this in person, but it was still so incredibly meaningful. Thank you so much for doing this. I hope it makes a difference in many parent and children’s lives.
Thank you for organizing this important event and for the generous gift of an incredibly affordable season pass to Mount Snow. We’ll send up a cheer to the sky for Taylor every time we get to go skiing.
Kathi– As a mother of a thirteen-year-old daughter (who is everything to me) my heart hurts for you. What you have had to endure throughout all this is unfathomable, yet you choose to trudge on with a positive spirit. I so admire you!!
Chris- First of all, I am sincerely sorry for the loss of your sweet mother. Thank you for sharing your heart regarding that information last night. I really appreciated your story, how you overcame, and the fact that you are transparent about still struggling with anxiety. Which is an ongoing battle for many. God bless you both!!
Thank you! I thought this might be a perfunctory slide-show-based presentation. So, this was a welcome, and meaningful surprise to hear real stories from real people.
I like the down to earth and specifics of the each of their stories and the parenting tips/reminders.
This was an excellent presentation. They had so much to share with both parents and kids. We all got a lot out of it… lots of discussion
Chris and Kathi, thank you so much for sharing your story. I appreciate you having the strength and courage to open up and share your stories with us so honestly. I am especially grateful that my son got to experience that it is okay for a big, strong man to open up and be vulnerable.
I would love to get involved with finding other families in this area to share their stories. I feel like the closer to our community the closer the kids can relate to issues and heartache. When I was in school, one of our classmates was killed by a bullet. At senior sleep out it was his best friend and there had been drinking that night and the accident happened in the morning when a stray bullet hit him in a tent. Sharing these stories in smaller communities with people that they can relate to even more is so much more. But I loved their presentations and anyone who speaks the truth and tells us their stories. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for both helping families with providing these passes and for helping them to discover more of life. COVID has been such a hard time and all my children are beyond thankful. It gives them something to look forward to. So many can slip into depression and this helps. (Note from Cindy- I followed up on this)
I really loved how the speakers were able to connect so well over zoom. They were amazing people and it was so wonderful that they shared such personal stories with us.
As a mother, my heart just broke listening to your story and I applaud your mission to share it with others. Truly inspiring, truly heartfelt, and so very important. I thank you and your husband for being so open and real – it’s the only way to hit home with people and make a difference! Great job and thank you both!
Appreciated the time you guys spent with us. I’m very aware now how my kids see professional athletes portrayed and assume that money makes people happy. Very nice for them to see and hear stories that made them sit back and think. Saying is true, “money can’t buy happiness”. Thank you for your time.