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Morgan Richardson celebrates on the ice

Cornell Big Red women's ice hockey first-year defenseman Morgan Richardson celebrates a victory on the ice. Photo by Darl Zehr Photography.

Women's ice hockey team joins Do It For Daron effort

The scoreboard displayed its usual "Big Red" and the fans were chanting "Let's go Red!" throughout the games, but on Feb. 1 and 2, Lynah Rink had a distinct purple feel to it.

Young fans wear purple at Lynah Rink

At its Feb. 1 and 2 games, the Cornell women's ice hockey team encouraged fans to wear purple, the Do It For Daron charity's color. Photo by Kelly Murray '16.

The Cornell women's ice hockey team played its games that weekend as part of the Do It For Daron series. Do It For Daron is a charitable organization that seeks to increase conversations about youth mental health to prevent teenage suicide and erase the stigma of discussing mental health issues.

Daron Richardson, the younger sister of Cornell first-year defenseman Morgan Richardson and daughter of Ottawa Senators assistant coach Luke Richardson, took her own life at age 14 in 2010. Her family and friends started the charity in 2011, and the Ottawa Senators hosted the first Do It For Daron Youth Mental Health Awareness Night that February. Purple was Daron's favorite color.

"The charity is really important to us and our team and obviously to the community," Cornell coach Doug Derraugh says. "I was really, really happy about the way it went, and hopefully we raised some awareness for mental health."

As Cornell welcomed Union and Rensselaer to Ithaca that weekend, the team encouraged fans to wear purple, the charity's color. A combined 1,783 fans came to those contests, many sporting purple gear. The team held a costume contest and gave out prizes to supporters who had the most creative purple outfits.

The players followed suit, adding purple heart-shaped patches to their jerseys, putting stickers on their helmets and placing purple tape on the goalies' pads.

The team knows how important it is to support their teammate who was directly impacted by the cause and to get the word out about mental health awareness. Junior forward Jessica Campbell was also touched by this issue when a friend of hers in Saskatchewan took his own life last year.

"I think it's something special that we can do here on campus," Campbell said of the Do It For Daron series while sporting the purple DIFD shirt the team wears on campus once a month. "I try to do whatever I can to support DIFD."

Fans wear purple at Lynah Rink

The team held a costume contest at the Feb. 1 and 2 games and gave out prizes for the most creative purple outfits. Photo by Kelly Murray '16.

In the weeks leading up to the game, the Big Red women's hockey team spread the word around campus, and hockey players also filmed public service announcements that were posted online. The Do It For Daron organization sold T-shirts and bracelets at the games. Former Cornell men's hockey player Colin Greening '10 has also filmed a public service announcement for DIFD about mental health that Cornell linked to on its website.

Cornell was ultimately successful on the ice, claiming victories of 8-1 over Union and 3-1 over Rensselaer. The fans, clad in purple, had a terrific weekend of watching Cornell keep pace at the top of ECAC Hockey.

Off the ice, though, the team felt like it accomplished an even more important goal.

"It was real special because we got to support one of our teammates, and more than that, we got to support the population [at large]," said defenseman Cassandra Poudrier '16, a classmate of Richardson's. "It's something that can touch pretty much everyone. You might not be aware of it, but people around you are facing those challenges. So I think to be able to raise awareness for everyone and for DIFD was really a good thing."

Money was raised for the Daron Richardson Fund through sales of the DIFD purple bracelets and T-shirts at the Big Red games.

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