Weeks after the loss of their son in an apparent suicide, the family of Daniel J. Briggs was on center ice with the Watertown Privateers on Sunday, spreading awareness about the dangers of bullying.
Amy J. Briggs, Daniels mother, said she hoped their response could help other bullying victims across the region.
Its been tough on us; its been extremely rough on us, but hopefully it will help somebody else, she said.
With hundreds of people in attendance at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds Municipal Ice Arena, Mrs. Briggs, Daniels father, Robbie B., and his brother, Michael A., 13, dropped the ceremonial opening puck for the game against the visiting Danbury Whalers.
The Privateers organized a special night for the Briggses, distributing anti-bullying T-shirts to fans and creating a banner signed by members of both teams. The Privateers also launched a scholarship in Daniels name, using money collected during the game.
Kris McCarthy, general manager and player for the Privateers, said the team scrambled in the past week to get everything into place.
Being role models, I thought it was important to stand up to bullying, and say that were not OK with it, Mr. McCarthy said.
Daniel Briggs, 16, died at his home on March 3. Bullying he endured at Thousand Islands Central School has been linked to his death.
Mr. McCarthy said he thought bullying is more prominent now compared with when he was growing up, and is made even worse by social media networks that can continue harassment outside of school.
It seems like an epidemic, he said.
Even in hockey, known for its share of fights, Mr. McCarthy said, there is a level of respect and responsibility among players. He pointed out that many bullies will target their victims through a computer screen, a practice that does not transfer to the world of hockey.
If you call somebody out, you have to be accountable for what you say, Mr. McCarthy said.
Mrs. Briggs called the special anti-bullying event Sunday a start in working with the community to stop bullying.
Were going to continue to work forward, she said. Were going to do everything in our power to stop this.
The Privateers lost Sunday evening to the Whalers, 6-4.
Video from the event can be seen at http://wdt.me/privateers-antibullying.