Former MLB All-Star and 4-time World Series Champion Darryl Strawberry was welcomed by nearly 700 guests at the 2017 Breaking the Silence program held on October 4, 2017 at the Holland Performing Arts Center. An ordained minister, Strawberry opened the evening program with a prayer calling for greater understanding for those with mental illness and addiction.  During his presentation, he recounted growing up with an abusive father and his battle with depression and substance abuse during his playing days.  While clearly proud of his baseball accomplishments,  he says his greatest focus and pride today is in being a good husband, maintaining his recovery, and helping others find their own pathway to recovery.  

Strawberry asked attendees to help dispel the stigma that surrounds mental illness and addiction. “No one ever wanted to grow up and be depressed,” he said.  “No one ever wanted to be addicted to drugs.”  He challenged our community to continuously strive to make a difference in the lives of others who struggle with these diseases by supporting Community Alliance and other agencies and by speaking out. 

Earlier in the day, Strawberry spoke to approximately 200 clients at Community Alliance’s offices, sharing his struggles and telling them that “asking for help is not a sign of weakness." "It is a sign of strength", he said. The legendary ballplayer urged the group to "show up, keep doing the hard work of recovery and never quit."  “Your life matters!”, he concluded to widespread applause and cheers. 

A record 79 businesses and individuals supported the 2017 event as sponsors or in-kind contributors. Members of Creighton University’s baseball team, led by Head Coach Ed Servais, helped greet arriving guests, distributing boxes of Cracker Jacks along with donation cards designed as Darryl Strawberry baseball cards, as part of the evening’s activities.  Strawberry took a few minutes to talk directly to the team about the importance of doing well in school, not letting the search for fame get in the way of what’s really important, and supporting one another as teammates. He also attended a patrons reception where he met many of the presenting sponsors as well as a number of elected officials prior to the program. 

A huge thank you to our sponsors, all who attended this year’s program, and all the volunteers who made Breaking the Silence 2017 one of the best ever in the agency’s ongoing effort to increase awareness and understanding of mental illness.  Darryl Strawberry and everyone involved hit it out of the ballpark!