Helping People. Saving Lives.
The Family Business

Posts Tagged ‘Jared Padalecki’

Looking Back, Looking forward and Feeling Grateful

My first three Supernatural conventions were highly emotional. There was a significant moment at each one that, along with the death of my nephew, laid the foundation for SPN Survivors to come to life in 2014.

When we started, my husband and I thought we were building a website to shine a spotlight on the resources available to those who were suffering from the loss of a loved one to suicide. We quickly realized, however, we were building something far more reaching.

We had our 1st vendor table at Vegas Con one week after Jared Padalecki launched his first Always Keep Fighting campaign. Once again, that convention was highly emotional for me as I shared my story of loss and listened to the SPN Family share their stories of struggle. What I learned that weekend was that our 8ft table space provided a SAFE place for people to open up and talk about things they normally cannot. And that need was great!

I flew home completely exhausted (physically, emotionally and mentally) but the SPN Family inspired me in so many ways. The result was the creation of our Battle Buddies and a circle of love and support I have never experienced anywhere else in my 45+ years on this earth.

The other result was that SPN Survivors became a 501c3 non-profit organization only 18 months after we launched the website. And that is all because of YOU . . . the SPN Family. There aren’t enough words to express how I feel about this amazing group of people lovingly known as the SPN Family.

In 2014, when SPN Survivors went from being an idea to a reality, I became aware of the many powerful stories of how Supernatural had not only changed people’s lives for the better, but also saved people’s lives. My husband and I felt these stories should be documented and somehow used to inspire others and serve as a testimonial to the power of our “little show” truly Helping People, Saving Lives: The Family Business! (our motto)

We were thrilled to learn Lynn Zubernis (Fangasm) felt the same way and after 2+ years of hard work, everyone will be able to read some of these powerful life-changing stories in Lynn’s new chapter book, Family Don’t End with Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Has Changed Lives, available May 9, 2017.

I am super excited about this book and can’t wait to read all 25 chapters and be inspired, once again, by the power of our show and the SPN Family!

As 2016 came to a close, I found myself reflecting back on all the wonderful people I have had the privilege to meet on this “survivors journey”. From Rachel, who I shared tears and a missed photo op with in Vegas, to another Rachael who shared with me these words from Misha (above), to the many moms who poured their hearts out to us (especially at ChiCon) and so many more. You have touched my heart and changed me for the better. I think about you often and wonder how you are doing. I’m sorry I can’t remember all of your names, and over time I may not remember your face, but I remember your story. I remember your hugs, your tears, your pain, your joy, and your thank you’s. And I treasure them all, so Thank YOU! And {{hugs}} to all of you too.


I’m also thankful and blown away by the generosity and kindness of those who donated to our Comfort Kit collection drive last summer. Between Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Chicago and those who mailed items directly to us, we received over 700 coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, notebooks, journals, and activity books! THANK YOU to all who donated!!! Your contribution is making a difference in the lives of those who are hurting and need to know their life matters, and that we care about them.

This is what it’s all about . . . Helping People, Saving Lives: The Family Business!

Looking forward, we are busy breathing life into our two annual awareness events:


March for Hope – Moving together for a brighter tomorrow – is our annual fundraiser and mental health awareness event which we will officially kick-off at Nash Con Feb 24-26 . Please join us as we make #TakeCareofYou a month long event with various activities supporting your physical, mental and emotional health. We also invite you to join our fundraising efforts through our Facebook Page to support our Comfort Kit Program in hospitals, schools and counseling offices. Every $25 raised sponsors a Battle Buddy and Comfort Kit to help someone Always Keep Fighting for better days ahead because #YouMatter!

#YouMatter! Day – Creating ripples of kindness across our communities – is our suicide prevention awareness event coming up in September. Please join us as we make “mattering” a way of life by reaching out to those around us and reminding them they matter. “It’s amazing how kind words and actions can create a ripple effect and many others will benefit from the positive things you do and say.” (T.A. Garcia)  We encourage everyone to be THAT ripple effect and make a difference in your community.

The last four years have been an amazing journey and I am forever grateful for each and every one of you. Let’s keep marching forward, together!

Come on . . . {{Group Hug}}
~ Karla

Attitudes in Reverse pledges to Always Keep Fighting

Mental illness is like air. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It is all around us.”
          -Katelyn Baker (Co-Founder of Attitudes In Reverse)

AIR Logo2After several emails back and forth, SPN Survivors was excited to meet Attitudes In Reverse (AIR) at the Supernatural convention in Washington DC this summer. We both had tables in the vendors room promoting suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and our efforts to make a difference and save lives. Sadly, we’ve both lost a loved one to suicide. We’ve also taken our loss, our pain, and channeled it into “Helping People, Saving Lives, The Family Business”, the SPN Survivors motto.

On Saturday, Nov 14, 2015, SPN Survivors had the privilege of attending the special presentation of AIR’s West Coast Chapter in Pasadena, California. It was an evening of education, reflection, and hope as we experienced the IN THEIR SHOES traveling exhibit (featuring shoes donated by Supernatural’s Gil McKinney, Jared Padalecki, Travis Aaron Wade, and Rob Benedict), enjoyed live music by the Architects of Jazz, remembered our loved ones with a Memorial Candle Lighting Ceremony, and listened to guest speakers Nina Gutin (Clinical Psychologist from Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services), Tricia Baker (AIR Co-Founder), Jane Hightower (AIR West Coast Chapter Coordinator), Shauna Moses (Associate Director of New Jersey Mental Health & Addiction Agencies and AIR Board Member) and Jared Padalecki (creator of the Always Keep Fighting movement).

Words cannot express how touched I was that Jared came and spoke at this special event!

Now we need YOU to join us in cultivating a loving and supportive atmosphere by starting LOTS of
Conversations about Good Mental Health!

Did you know that 50% of all mental illness develops by the age of 14, when a young person is starting high school?And that 75% of all mental illness develops by the age of 24? Mental illness does not discriminate and affects every school and every neighborhood across the country. In fact, 1 in 5 young people suffer from a mental illness during the time they are preparing for college, moving away from home, joining the military, or attending college, and it often goes undiagnosed for years.

The good news is that mental illness is a health disorder that IS treatable. Education and awareness are essential in early detection, seeking help and realizing “You are NOT alone!” This is why organizations like Attitudes In Reverse are SO important. They go into our middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities (talking to students from age 10 to 24) to start conversations and create community awareness about the importance of good mental health.  The goal is to put an end to the stigma attached to mental illness and advocate for treatment and recovery.

In an effort to “Start The Conversation, Reverse An Attitude, Save A Life!” (AIR’s motto), SPN Survivors recently asked Tricia Baker, Co-Founder of Attitudes In Reverse (AIR), to share with us her story, her passion, and her family’s dedication to Always Keep Fighting.

“From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story.” – Fr. Craig Scott

SPN Survivors: Tell us the story behind Attitudes In Reverse. How did it get started?  

Tricia: The words Attitudes In Reverse (AIR) was coined by my daughter Katelyn, after the loss of her brother, and the discrimination she had to battle due to her brother’s illness and death.

Her brother, Kenny, lived for over 3 years with a mental health disorder. Katelyn watched Kenny being judged and criticized by people who had no understanding of his illness. Before his first break, Kenny was an honor student, a star swimmer, a life guard, a friend to many, a kind brother, and a loving son. He had the world at his feet, until the age of 15 when his illness hit.

It was difficult to find him help. He was at the highest level of state care but we could not get help. Many at the school thought he was not really sick, after all mental health disorders are invisible illnesses. People at the school, both students and educators called him lazy and judged and criticized him without understanding what depression and other mental health disorders are and the impact they have on the human body.

We believe, if only people were kinder to him, were more compassionate, more understanding and educated, there would have been a good chance he would still be alive today.

AIR was born out of the most horrific loss, the loss of a son. The loss of a brother. We vowed as a family that no child should have to struggle with an illness, and battle the stigma of that illness. We have vowed to educate youth so that no one is ever embarrassed or afraid to seek treatment. Attitudes In Reverse educates youth so they know there is hope for healing.

Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting movement embodies what the Baker family has lived for the past 10 years. First, it was fighting to keep a child alive. Then it was fighting to keep a second child healthy and in school. We didn’t know that the high school was going to let Katelyn graduate until 12 hours prior to graduation. Finally, Attitudes In Reverse fights daily to get into schools, battling stigma, to save young lives.

SPN Survivors: Your website states, “The mission of AIR Attitudes In Reverse is to educate society about mental health.” Tell us about AIR’s programs and projects and how you are accomplishing this goal.

   – Coming Up For AIR Student Presentation Program
The AIR student presentation is mental health education geared towards middle school, high school and college aged students. It is a peer-led multimodal presentation: powerpoint, video, interactive discussion. It can be 45 to 60 minutes, depending upon class length, and can be offered during Physical Education, Health, Science, Studies/Humanities classes.

Topics Covered:

  • What is a mental illness? What is not?
  • Stereotypes about mental illness
  • The prevalence of mental illness
  • Possible warning signs
  • Possible effects of improperly-treated mental illness.
  • One or two short stories of families affected by mental illness and/or suicide.
  • Warning signs of suicide and statistics.
  • Myths vs. Facts regarding suicide
  • Resources

In just under 5 years, Attitudes In Reverse® has educated over 22,000 students, in three states, NJ, NY and VT.  AIR™’s Coming Up for AIR program educates students so that they know there is no shame in asking for help, and that there is hope for healing.

   – AIR ™Attitudes In Reverse® Wristbands
Our latex wristbands colors are Green, signifying Children’s Mental Health, and WHITE, representing HOPE that one day stigma will be gone. On the outside of the wristband are the words: AIR  Anyone who wears the wristbands, gives a visual cue to ALL that they are approachable, and will not judge or criticize. They will listen and assist in however they can.

At DC Con in July, we gave away over 500 wristbands and now we give away approximately 1,000 wristbands at every Supernatural convention we attend. We are also starting many conversations about good mental health.

AIR™ Attitudes In Reverse® T-shirts
Our annual high school and college age student t-shirt design contest is going on NOW. First prize is an iPad. Winning design is produced. All AIR™ volunteers get a FREE AIR Shirt in appreciation of their work and efforts of starting the many conversations that the best suicide prevention plan is a good mental health awareness program.

In 2014, our second place winner was a young person who entered the contest while in a residential treatment facility. She came to our event to receive her prize, and saw over 600 people wearing her design on their t-shirts. She was overwhelmed to tears, as she had never won anything before in her life.

AIR’s T-shirts have not only traveled across the US but have traveled across the globe to Australia, England, and Saudi Arabia.

IN THEIR SHOES™ Traveling Exhibit

You Are Enough

Popular on College Campuses. The purpose is two fold:
  1. To let those who are struggling in silence know that they are not alone.
  2. To educate the 75% of the population that has no idea how difficult it is to live with a mental health issue. With education comes understanding, empathy and kindness.

    Youth Mental Health First AID  (New for AIR™ in 2015)
Instruction for parents, teachers or any adult who works with children, to help identify early warning signs of mental health disorders in our youth. This national program, developed in Australia, is endorsed by President and Michelle Obama.

   – Annual Scholarships
Two annual scholarships are given to a graduating seniors. One at our local high school, for their bravery in making societal change. The second is given to a Senior swimmer on Kenny’s former swim team to the swimmer who has overcome significant challenges.

AIR is a small army of passionate people, who truly believe that we can make a difference in the world. We are ALL volunteers, and all Attitudes In Reverse work is done in our “spare time”.

SPN Survivors: Over the past couple of months we have been helping someone who is struggling with depression, anxiety and other “invisible illnesses” find a service dog, so I am especially interested in your Paws for Minds Program. Please tell us more about how this program is changing people’s lives for the better.

~ AIR Dogs: Paws For Minds Program People Saving Dogs. Dogs Saving People TM
In 2012, AIR™ began its program providing emotional support dogs and psychiatric service dogs to people in need; AIR Dogs: Paws for Minds. Our hope is to locate really great dogs in shelters and match them up with a human partner who suffers from some mental health issue. To date we have placed 10 Emotional Support Dogs and 1 working service dog. AIR Dogs pays for any shipping costs of the animal, provides financial support to the foster family, pays for veterinarian and grooming expenses and assists the owner financially with training. AIR Dogs will pay for 1 year of training to have the dog certified as an emotional support dog. We placed a working service dog to a young woman for no cost.

Our hope is to also be able to provide foster care to AIR Dog owners, should they require long term residential treatment. One little dog spent 8 months with a foster mom, while his real mom was getting well. Knowing that this little dog was waiting for her when she got home, inspired her to work harder at getting well.

I have attached a video of our AIR Dog, Sherlock, graduating as a service dog at our annual Miki & Friends 5K Walk/Run for AIR.

AIR Dogs: Paws for Minds Program has been involved with Rutgers University in a study showing the healing affects that therapy dogs have on children with autism.

SPN Survivors: Are there any special events or fundraisers coming up you’d like to tell us about to help spread the word about Attitudes In Reverse?


 – Join The AIR Revolution Event(s)
AIR launched their West Coast Chapter in Pasadena, CA in November 2015 and we are very thankful to all those who attended. Annually California loses 452 young people, ages 10-24, and 354 of these are young men. The need is great to Start The Conversation, Reverse An Attitude, Save A Life!

I am currently discussing new chapters in Minneapolis, Western PA, and Phoenix, AZ thanks to the SPN Family and the Always Keep Fighting campaign.

You can email [email protected] if you would like to help.

   – Annual Miki & Friends: Walk/Run for AIR
A Day Celebrating How Dogs are Good For Our Mental Health is always celebrated the third Saturday in May. The purpose is to reach the 75% of the population who have no idea how difficult it can be to live with a mental health issue. Education will lead to understanding, kindness and empathy. We reach this part of society through their dogs. This event is an awareness event, and a fund-raising event. 

Gil quote  In May 2015, Gil McKinney (Supernatural‘s Henry Winchester) attended and performed “You’ve Got A Friend” for our attendees. Gil has been a big supporter of Attitudes In Reverse, especially the AIR Dog program, and has two adorable rescue dogs.  This event is in Mercer County, NJ, but SPN Family traveled from Louisiana and Boston to help volunteer.  People can also participate in this event virtually.

 – Warm AIR for Winter
In late November/early December  we will be hosting Warm AIR for Winter. It has become our new holiday tradition to collect socks, and other warm items, and deliver them to patients in mental health facilities so no one feels alone through the holidays. Sadly, 70% of people in psychiatric hospitals never get a visitor. 

For Christmas of 2014, we collected over 600 pairs of socks in only three weeks. My husband, Kurt, and I took therapy dogs and on Christmas Eve, we visited the people at the Eating Disorder Unit at a hospital, delivering socks. On Christmas Day, we delivered over 500 pairs to patients at the local mental health hospital. We also collected sweatshirts, hats and gloves, and some of the people in these facilities are homeless. Our therapy dogs Miki and Luna brought smiles to so many on Christmas Day.

Moving forward, we are not only looking for donations (especially men’s socks) but encouraging others to search out their local psychiatric hospital to run their own collection. I would LOVE if we could make this a national program reaching as many people in hospitals as possible.


If you would like to donate or help Attitudes In Reverse in any way, please visit their website for more information.

An Open Letter to a Very Brave Supernatural Fan

Jared - web

You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life. – Zig Ziglar

Dear Brave SPN Fan,

On October 27th, 2013 you and I were at the Westin Hotel in Rosemont, IL to see Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles at Creation Entertainment’s Salute to Supernatural convention (ChiCon).  You were in line on the left side of the stage to ask a question.  In fact, you asked the LAST question of Jared and Jensen’s panel that day.  You asked if Jared and Jensen thought Sam and Dean would ever give up on life.  Would they ever feel so overwhelmed to consider suicide?

My heart broke when I heard your question and tears immediately started to roll down my cheeks as I reached for my husband’s hand.  I worried for a moment how the boys would handle your question.  Jensen was very somber and remained silent as he deferred to Jared.  Jared’s answer was beautiful.  He told you, “Getting rid of yourself is never the answer.  Keep on fighting the fight.”  Jared went on to talk about how when he’s struggling, he’s learned to take the focus off himself and his problems, and look for ways he can help someone else.  By doing this, you help yourself by helping others.

I tried to find you after the panel but I was on the other side of the room and there were simply too many people between us.  On that day, I wanted to find you, give you a hug, and encourage you any way I could through my tears.  Today, I still want to find you and hug you, but I also want to thank you and praise you for your courage because YOU and that moment at ChiCon have forever changed my life!

I lost my nephew to suicide and his death ripped a hole through my heart and knocked me off my feet with such force that I have really struggled with how to move forward.  My homework assignment from my counselor is to look for opportunities to talk about my nephew and to talk about suicide.  I thanked Jared in the autograph line for his genuine, heart-felt answer to your question.  I also found the courage over the next several months to reach out to others who were at ChiCon and talk about your suicide question and my suicide loss.

In the process of reaching out to others, I discovered there were people all around me who were suffering in silence, and that they too, just needed a little help on how to move forward.  I realized I needed to take my loss, my journey, and pay it forward to help others within the SPN Family.  And so . . . I created SPN Survivors.

I want you to know I think about you A LOT and I will never forget you!  I wonder what impact Jared’s answer has had on you over the last year.  I want to know you are OK.

You are Awesome!  You are Brave!  And you inspired me to take the necessary steps I needed to move forward in my journey, and to help others along the way.  I would be honored if you would contact me.

With Much Love!

~ Karla

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @SPNsurvivors