COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KXRM) – Former Air Force and NFL player Ben Garland, along with members of the Denver Broncos organization, come together this week for the second annual “Friday Night Lights : Shining a Light on Mental Health”.

The Wingman 63 Foundation has scheduled the event for Friday, May 6, starting at 6 p.m. at Empower Field in Mile High, and is expected to last until 9 p.m. Those who attend can participate in a stair challenge at the stadium under the lights and enjoy a performance by a Nashville artist.

Garland, who established the Wingman 63 Foundation to support mental health, veterans and youth, was influenced by his brother to begin his journey in fighting the stigma surrounding mental health.

“My brother is a doctor, a professor at Arizona State, and if you look at his life on paper, everything is absolutely perfect,” Garland said. “He’s handsome, he’s talented, he’s smart and he crushes everything. He struggles deeply with anxiety and depression, but he’s been brave enough to talk about it.

Friday’s event was planned to raise awareness about mental health, especially among young people in Colorado. Garland says 226,000 children in Colorado struggle with at least one mental health issue, and only 22% of that number will receive proper care.

“Imagine walking into a playground and seeing 25 children playing, and five of them have a broken arm, and only one child is receiving medical treatment. You would think that is insane” , Garland said, “Go help those other kids. That’s what we want to do and that’s what this event is about. It’s about helping other kids who aren’t willing to ask for help.” help, or who are too scared to ask for help, or who simply don’t know they need it.

“The sad statistic is that by age 10 or older, the leading cause of death for children in Colorado is suicide, which is an appalling fact. But the problem is, it’s a fact. kids here have issues so we need to reach out and support them, hug them, give them everything they need and let them know it’s okay if they’re not well, but ask help, because we will be there for you.”

Garland says the stigma around mental health is difficult to fight, but it can be changed if more people decide to join the fight.

“I think we need to change it as a culture and have welcoming arms,” ​​Garland said. “You have to think about it yourself. Are you willing to go tell someone when you have stress or anxiety, or even minor forms of it?

“This same person is going through major depression, major anxiety and panic attacks. Often they don’t want to talk about it because they’re ashamed, and often that shame forces them to isolate themselves further, which makes them even more stressed, more anxious, and more depressed about who they are. go through.

“I think it’s really important that we open up as a society and as a culture and show it as a sign of strength when someone opens up to you, not as a sign of weakness.”