It’s been over a year since Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski took his life on January 16, 2018. Since Hilinski killed himself, his family has been trying to find answers.
The Hilinski family created a foundation in honor of the late quarterback. Hilinksi Hope is a non-profit that teams up with the NCAA Sport Science Institute to help others who are struggling with mental health issues, especially college student athletes.
Hilinski’s family and friends decided to create a viral social media challenge to help destigmatize mental illness. The 3 FOR 3 Burpee Challenge is a mental health awareness movement to “get up for those who are down.” To do this challenge, the nominee does three burpees and then challenges three new people.
This challenge encourages viewers and nominees to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Kym Hilinski, Tyler’s mother, says she is in awe of how many people are already doing the challenge.
“We’re amazed of the support and the length that the challenge has reached. It’s over in California, South Carolina, Canada, the U.K. and even over in Japan,” said Kym Hilinski.
After Tyler’s death, his family learned that he was suffering from stage one of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a disease linked with repeated head trauma that is common in football. CTE has been found in more than 100 former professional football players, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Tyler is only the second active college football player known to have CTE. Kym Hilinski said that they are not sure of the exact cause of Tyler getting CTE, but it was one of the main reasons why he was struggling.
“We realized that if Tyler was suffering, he was suffering in silence. We don’t want anyone else to be going through what he was going through,” said Kym Hilinski.
Tyler Hilinski was not the only member of the family who played football. The eldest brother, Kelly, played at Weber State. His youngest brother, Ryan, has committed to play for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
This was a hard decision for Ryan to make after all his brother went through. However, with the new 3 FOR 3 Burpee Challenge, Ryan said he decided to continue playing football to honor his brother while spreading awareness.
“Him just looking down on us and watching us help other people because of what he went through, I just know he is super proud and happy finally,” said Ryan Hilinski.
The Hilinskis hope that people across the world will continue to “get up for those who are down” by continuing to spread the 3 FOR 3 Burpee Challenge. The funds raised through this challenge will help fund programs that provide assistance and promote educational awareness for mental illness in young persons.