It's been over a year since Dylan Buckner died, just months shy of his high school graduation. For his family, the pain is still very raw, but they continue to find ways to remember him in a positive light.
"If there can be anything positive, if we can make changes, improvements so there's less mental illness, less suicide," said Chris Buckner, Dylan's father.
Buckner was an honor student and star quarterback at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook. On Jan. 7, 2021, he took his own life after battling with depression. The family believes his struggles significantly worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
Months after his death, the family decided to establish the Dylan Buckner Foundation to honor him. Through it, they've been offering scholarships to graduating seniors from Glenbrook North High School, with hopes of creating more awareness about mental health. The most recent scholarship was awarded this week to Abby Schyman, a 2022 GBN graduate.
"I'm so honored to have gotten it," said Schyman, who is headed to the University of Miami in Florida in the fall. "It's bittersweet. Awesome they're giving back to community, that Glenbrook North High School is building a better community for mental health, but of course, at what cost?"
Glenbrook North alum Justin Breen partnered with the Buckner family on this mission. He funded the $1,000 scholarship and named it the BrEpic Leadership Award.
"We wanted to make sure that it was awarded to a graduating Glenbrook North Senior, where he went to school," said Breen. "The student had to be an advocate to raise awareness for mental health."
Since the Buckner Foundation was established, the family has awarded $41,000 of scholarships to Glenbrook North High School students, according to Chris Buckner. Some of the funds come from donations, but parts of it also come from Dylan Buckner's college savings.
“My wife felt extremely strongly about it,” said Chris Buckner.
It’s a mission that has grown in the midst of enormous grief, that sheds light on mental health, while assuring Dylan Buckner is never forgotten.
"Dylan was a great person, he did a lot of great things," Chris Buckner said. "Many people remind us of that, since he died. I don't want to hide him or ever be ashamed of him... I don't want to forget, Dylan. I want to remember Dylan, said Mr. Buckner.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.