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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – From October 1 to October 8, more than 100 colleges and universities are participating in College Football Mental Health Week, put on by the Hilinski’s Hope Foundation including Baylor University.

Kim and Mark Hilinski started a foundation after their son Tyler, a quarterback at Washington State, died by suicide in 2018.

Hilinski’s Hope

Kim and Mark Hilinski started the foundation after their son Tyler, a quarterback at Washington State, died by suicide in 2018.

“Tyler was the happiest, most fun, funny, great to be around. Kim and I say we love all our boys but we really loved Tyler,” Mark told KWTX in a one-on-one interview.

“We never heard one conversation about what he was struggling with, we never got a note he never saw a physician, didn’t tell anybody, whether that was because of the stigma or worried about losing his spot on the team, we’re not sure,” he explained.

In his honor, the two started the foundation and College Football Mental Health week with the hope of raising awareness for mental health resources for student athletes like Tyler, who may be struggling in silence.

“We put these boxes together with helmet decals, lapel pins, patches, headbands, cheer ribbon and our wrist bands with the suicide hotline number on them. We ship these boxes of hope all around the country and to see universities step up and join our mission and partner with us, I just think it says so much about the universities and truly how much they care about their student athletes, not just how they perform on the field but they truly care about them mind body and soul,” Kim Hilinski told KWTX.

Every year, the foundation partners with more universities but say Baylor’s partnership is particularly special.

“We got an email from someone in Baylor Athletics our first year that said our head football coach *has to be part of College Football Mental Health Week,” Kim explained.

“We said “its Thursday night, FedEx is closed, you’re traveling to West Virginia, its impossible to get them there” but that turned out not to be true. We found a currier that came to our home in South Carolina picked up the helmet decals, brought them to West Virginia and not literally, but as the team was going onto the field they were slapping the helmet decals on,” Kim said.

“We love that Baylor and Baylor Athletics, the Athletic Director, Mack Rhoades, and Head Football Coach, Dave Aranda, is so behind taking care of the mental health of their student athletes that just says so much about how much they care about their student athletes and we love them for that and that will be one of our favorite stories as we move forward this is our third year, we’ll be doing it forever but Baylor is very big in our hearts for that,” Kim said.

Coming Tuesday: KWTX@4 sits down with Monique Marsh-Bell, the Associate Athletic Director for Mental Health Services at Baylor to talk about her role in the Athletic Department and work their doing to prioritize mental health among student athletes.

Coming Wednesday: KWTX@4 sits down with a former Baylor football player who details the mental challenges that come with being a college athlete.

Coming Thursday: Hear from Baylor Head Football Coach, Dave Aranda, and Texas A&M Football Coach, Jimbo Fischer, on KWTX@4 about their involvement in College Football Mental Health Week.

Coming Friday: KWTX@4 takes the conversation to the high school level, talking with a local high school football coach about efforts their making to take care of kids mental health.

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