UD athlete nationally honored for anti-suicide site
Linda Smith, News Editor
Manasquan, New Jersey is a borough of 6,310 residents who pride themselves on living in a classic American town of thriving businesses, good schools, civic responsibility and happy families.
But according to resident and University of Dallas sophomore athlete Emily Dayton, this classic American town has also been home to the largest suicide cluster in the U.S. Since 2007, there have been seven student suicides and 12 total.
After the last one in February 2012, Dayton knew it was time to do something.
Thus emerged You Can NOT Be Replaced, the result of many nights of brainstorming in person and via Skype and email with her parents, Chip and Melissa.
“Our organization is not an anti-suicide organization, but we like to think of it as being ‘anti-everything,’ as in bullying, addiction, etc.,” Dayton said. “We want people to be constantly reminded that they’re irreplaceable.”
Dayton’s dedication to both this website and her position as a defender for the women’s soccer team earned her one of the 19 semi-finalist spots for the Coach Wooden Citizenship cup.
The cup is sponsored by Athletes for a Better World, which according to its website gives the award to two athletes, one collegiate and one professional (in any sport), “who have made the greatest difference in the lives of others.” The recipients are “athletes of excellence both on and off the field, role models both as performers and persons.”
“She continues to impress me with her desire to be more involved on campus with her non-profit organization,” women’s soccer coach Kristina Corona said. “Emily has qualities of passion and dedication that surpass most college student athletes. Her drive to impact and inspire those within her community is amazing.”
The hallmark feature of the organization is wristbands with the words “I Can NOT Be Replaced” written on them. The idea behind the wristbands, which Dayton’s father thought up, is that they are passed along so that people can “physically make a difference” and combine “an action with a kindness.”
“We thought of wearing a wristband with the words ‘I Can NOT Be Replaced’ on it so whenever they look down, whenever they’re having a bad day, they can be reminded that they can’t be replaced,” Dayton said. “Putting the attention on someone else and doing a simple gesture, such as holding a door open, smiling at someone, or even passing a wristband can change someone’s day. You never know what is going on on the inside.”
The organization is a Dayton family effort. Emily produces the graphics for the website and T-shirts, while her mother organizes information. They, along with Emily’s friends Claire and Amanda, contribute to a Twitter. Her brother Andrew takes many photographs for their quotes; her brother Chris has recently helped with communication and fundraising for the organization, and her parents present at school assemblies. Everyone in the family contributes daily quotes, wisdom and encouragement on their Facebook page as well.
“The website is important to me, because anyone can pull it up and see what we’re doing, and it’s another great way to spread the message around,” Dayton said. “What I hope people take away when they visit the website or hear about our organization is that they take a moment to remember how valuable they are.”
Dayton said that several people from “Colorado, California, Florida and between,” have sent stories to the Daytons about how the bracelets and website have helped them.
“I hope the people who find the site will become interested in helping others to value life by being kind … or even by helping to promote You Can NOT Be Replaced,” Dayton said. “It has been an amazing year, and the growth continues to amaze our whole family. I really had no idea that our little idea would be so far-reaching.”