The Vernon Doctors Hockey Tournament Society raised $2,500 for the Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon branch in memory of medical student, former UBC Thunderbirds women’s hockey goalie and tournament participent, who died by suicide last year. Making the presentation are (from left): Tammy Benischek, VDHTS; Dr. Gavin Smart, VDHTS; Sue Rossi, executive director CMHA; Sue Taylor and Tom Taylor (Laura’s parents); Dr. Chris Cunningham, VDHTS and Cassandra Schwarz, CMHA. (photo submitted)

Doctors hockey event raises funds for mental health

Vernon tournament gives $2,500 in memory of former participant

Doctors used an annual hockey event to raise money for mental health awareness.

The recently held 33rd annual Vernon Doctors Hockey Tournament Society hosts the largest physicians hockey tournament in Western Canada.

Proceeds from this year’s event were used to make a generous donation of $2,500 to the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Vernon branch in memory of Laura Taylor, a UBC medical student and gifted athlete who died by suicide last year.

Taylor took part in the Vernon Doctors Hockey Tournament and was also a member of the UBC Thunderbirds women’s hockey team after also having played Canadian varsity university hockey with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in her undergrad years.

Taylor’s family openly shared Laura’s story in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness while promoting mental wellness.

“Laura was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and struggled with the associated stigma which left her feeling too vulnerable to openly talk about her own mental illness,” said her parents, Tom and Sue Taylor.

“Our family hopes that by sharing Laura’s story, and raising funds for more education regarding mental illness, we can break down the stigma which can be a barrier that can even prevent people from seeking help. The stigma won’t go away if families hide the truth. It needs to be talked about openly just as you would talk about any other illness.”

The donation will help the CMHA in outreach programs to educate the community about the importance of prevention and early intervention in mental health.

“We are pleased to be able to make this donation in Laura’s memory to help improve the dialogue about mental health in our community,” said Dr. Gavin Smart, with the VDHTS.

To learn more about the Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon branch, or to make a donation to improve mental health in the community, visit or call 250-542-3114.


Wilson Wong/UBC Athletics photo Laura Taylor