Maple Leafs’ Marner hosts charity miniature golf outing

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LONDON, Ontario — Michael Marner said his commitment to raising awareness about mental health helped him overcome an incident in May in which he and his fiancee Stephanie LaChance were victims of a carjacking.

Marner and LaChance were restrained by three suspects, two armed with guns and one with a knife, who took off in Marner’s vehicle.

“It was scary and we’re lucky no one was hurt, but it plays on your mind,” the Toronto Maple Leafs forward said. “Fortunately, we had people around us who we could talk to and confide in. That really helped. Unfortunately, not everyone does.

“I know what it meant to talk about it. A lot of men don’t want to talk about traumatic things in their lives, about depression. That’s the type of stigma, the type of stereotype that we want to overcome.”

Marner is trying to overcome this through the Marner Assist Foundation, which organized the Sink the Stigma initiative on Thursday to benefit London Health Sciences Centre’s First Episode Mood and Anxiety programme.

The inaugural miniature golf event took place at East Park London, where the facility’s course featured a specially designed hole in Marner’s honor that flashed a red goal light whenever a ball went down in the bottom of the cup.

At the end of the event, Marner presented a check for $25,000 to the London Health Sciences Foundation.

London holds a special place for Marner, who played for the Ontario Hockey League Knights from 2013 to 2016 and frequently visited children in local hospitals. It was also there that he developed a close bond with his “hero”, Hayden Foulon, who died aged 7 in October 2019 after a six-year battle with leukaemia.

“Visiting these medical facilities and visiting the people there is where I developed the desire to one day have my own charity,” Marner said.

“Mental health is such an important issue. I had thought of doing something for him a few years ago. The pandemic and the [carjacking] only fueled my desire to help.”

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