Andy Hull Sunshine Foundation You Matter™: a phrase that had little to no meaning to me until I walked into a crowded high school gym, one December afternoon. We all tend to tell ourselves that everything is okay until the breaking point. After the loss of Andy Hull our whole community was shaken by its roots. That unknown foundation that we had built together over many years as a student body was about to be tested.

Walking into that familiar gymnasium I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew things were looking bleak for everyone but what did that have to do with me? I was okay right? I was about to find out that I was very far from okay. When Leann Hull came on stage and talked to us all about how we deserved help and were strong enough to go get help I remember nodding to myself and crying. I’m not usually one of those people to cry in public but I clearly had a lot to think about. That night I made it my goal to get help and not be ashamed of hurting because I deserved recovery. That is one of the many lessons LeAnn has taught me in our short friendship. Getting help is horrifying. Simple as that, there is no sugarcoating having to change the bad habits you have allowed to encompass your life for years.

However, the whole time I was fighting my own daemons and figuring myself out I was never alone. LeAnn’ s words rang true in my ear. I mattered. Not only did I have a support system that most celebrities would be willing to pay top dollar for, I also had hope. That foundation created by my student body that had been tested time and time again became so solid that I wasn’ t afraid to speak up and reach out my hand anymore. There was also an organization right by my side proclaiming to the world that teenager struggle too and our feelings shouldn’t be discounted. Sunshine is all around you; you just have to be strong enough to let it in.

~ Melody Pierce