Often charities are started because of the life-changing experiences that people endure in this lifetime. No parent expects to lose or have to bury their child. Accidents happen and many times we are powerless to keep our children safe from the things they will be exposed to. However, this charity is bringing awareness to a children’s game that all parents, grandparents and family friends need to know about: The Choking Game.
What is The Choking Game? Simply put, it’s a method used to get high either by strangling themselves or others. It works by cutting off the flow of oxygen to the brain by wrapping ropes, scarves, belts or hands around the neck. When the pressure is released, the oxygen floods back to the brain creating a warm, fuzzy and lightheaded sensation, like a high.
The organizer, Babs, lost her daughter Brianna Reid Canacari, a vibrant, loving 12-year-old girl who loved life and had a positive future ahead of her. On June 16, 2010, Brianna hung herself, possibly as a result of playing The Choking Game. She was in ICU in a coma for four days and died June 19, 2010 at 11:17 p.m.
In 2010, just shortly after the death of Brianna, the BRI foundation, (Breathing-Reassurance-Into Teens) was born. This foundation’s mission is to promote, educate and raise awareness of this risky behavior (The Choking Game) and Teen Suicide across America. BRI is committed to providing a sense of hope and change for victims and families. Their advocacy for this cause originates from their own personal tragedy.
Babs’ mission with Ride for Hope is to start a conversation and spread the word with children and teenagers about suicide and risky behavior which includes The Choking Game.
I was never exposed to The Choking Game while growing up and was curious to ask people if they had heard of it. 50% of the people we spoke with had not heard of The Choking Game.” Children and teenagers have enough challenges in growing up that bringing awareness to this deadly game is incredibly important so children and teenagers learn the consequences of playing this deadly game.
Babs and her family were devastated by their loss. However, while dealing with the pain, guilt, and confusion surrounding Brianna’s death, Babs realized a way to both honor her and help others was to start a non-profit that could get awareness out about this life changing issue.
BRI and the Ride for Hope focus their efforts on fundraising and outreach events to further educate, bring awareness about teenagers’ risky behavior, and, ultimately, save lives. Babs says, “This so-called game is taking our children’s lives, and it must be stopped! We want you to have tomorrow with your children.”
In 2013, she organized her first Ride for Hope motorcycle event on October 5, which would have been Brianna’s sweet 16. Babs was ecstatic when eight bikes showed up. Babs did not ride a motorcycle at the time, but she knew learning to ride was not only therapeutic for her but a way to bring awareness to this risky behavior. Each year the attendance grew exponentially and by 2017 it reached just over 110 motorcycles!!!!
As if Babs didn’t have enough grief to endure, Brianna’s father, Chris, took his life on March 26, 2015. Babs declares, “After more than seventeen years of pain from a back injury, with little help from our healthcare system, and then the most excruciating pain of the emotional distress of his daughter’s death, fighting the depression, fighting the daily reminders of what he saw that morning of June 16, 2010, the PTSD kicked in and kicked in hard.”
Babs’ dream is to carry this mission and this ride to other states. Her passion is getting out on the open road and connecting with people and hearing their stories whatever they may be. Babs boasts, “I have a gift of drawing people to me, it’s a beautiful thing.”
Please mark your calendar for June 22, 2019 for The Ride for Hope. There are some new exciting plans for this charity ride. If you know someone who is grieving the loss of someone due to The Choking Game or Teen Suicide and could use the support offered with this foundation, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am looking forward to The Ride for Hope 2019.