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Tony Burton: I Want to Help Those Kids

/Tony Burton: I Want to Help Those Kids

John Lennon wrote, ‘Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans.’ While I was packing for college 12 years ago, life happened to me. My dad died that night of a heart attack. The next days blurred into the next year, with only a few milestones sticking out in my mind – moving to college, that first Christmas and moving home for the summer. I was a shadow of myself, a zombie. My family noticed it but I didn’t.

Fall semester of my sophomore year marked the bottom for me. My grades were subpar, I was struggling with the daily grind of college and I even started lashing out at my family. They quickly became fed up with my zombie state about the same time I started to notice that I needed help. In January 2001, I sought grief counseling at Northeast Youth & Family Services (NYFS) in Shoreview, Minn. Over the course of the next semester, a counselor named Paul worked with me. I noticed a dramatic improvement in my grades, my temperament and my overall enjoyment of life. In May, Paul told me that he felt I was ready to graduate from his services, but that he and NYFS would be there for me if I needed them again.

From then on, I started leading the life I knew I could – and one that would make my dad proud. I graduated from the University of Minnesota in the spring of 2003 with a bright future. But I never forgot Paul and NYFS and the impact they had on my life.

In 2008, I found the challenge I was ready for in my life; I took up triathlons and distance running after watching a good friend of mine from high school finish IRONMAN Wisconsin. That day with the inspiration at the IRONMAN finish line, I set a goal to pay homage to my dad with physical fitness. Since 2009, distance sports have become a staple of my life. In 2011, I ran the Twin Cities Marathon, my first marathon.

As I trained for the marathon, I worked to raise $5,000 for NYFS to help kids in their hour of need, just as NYFS helped me. Northeast Youth & Family Services is a community-based non-profit that assists youth and families for healthy lives. In addition to mental health services, NYFS offers to youth: mentoring, summer camp, employment training programs, and other opportunities. Many of these programs are offered either as pay-as-you-can or for free. While I had health insurance to pay for my counseling services, many do not. And I want to help those kids.

Everyone needs help at some point in life. You can make a difference. Donate to NYFS to help this great organization assist children and families in our community.

Thanks for your support,