July 20th, 2024

Humboldt crash survivor shares story with students

By Lethbridge Herald on March 29, 2024.

Humboldt Broncos crash survivor and mental health advocate Tyler Smith shares his story with students and staff earlier this week at Winston Churchill High School. Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Students and staff at Winston Churchill High School had the opportunity to listen to mental health advocate and Humboldt Broncos crash survivor Tyler Smith share his story and talk about Green Shirt Day Thursday during an assembly at the school’s gymnasium. 

During his presentation Smith told those in attendance a little bit of background about what it was like to be a Humboldt Bronco, what it was like to be six hours away from his family, and how the Humboldt Broncos have become his family away from home. 

He shared his struggles with mental health and how Logan Boulet was there for him. He shared a particular moment when he decided to go mute, as he was exhausted. He felt like he had nothing to bring to the table, he was not putting a lot of time in the ice and he started to question what he was doing there. 

“I had every single person in that room, I had Logan Boulet come up to me and asked what’s going on, talk to me, how can we help out, what’s going on, what do you need from us,” said Smith. 

He said that was the type of connection he had with his team – he had a relationship with every single person in the team. 

“Every single day I would go out to practice and work out after, and do you know who I saw every single day? Bouls (Boulet). Do you know what the best part of leadership is? We are all leaders in this room, even if you don’t think you are,” said Smith. 

He said the thing about leadership is showing up, he looked up to Boulet because he always showed up. 

“Now fast-forward to that day April 6, 2018, a lot of people in this room may have no record of that day because you were simply too young. Believe it or not, I also have no recollection of that day,” said Smith. 

He told the audience he had one weird piece of advice, something that was crucial for him that day and he wanted to make sure everyone knew what that was. 

“Does anyone here know your mom or dad’s phone number? If you don’t, do your part to remember it. I was taken in an ambulance that day and I had no way to contact my mom or my dad,” said Smith. 

He said he didn’t have his phone or wallet and no way to contact them, but thankfully his mom has had the same phone number since he can remember. He was able to reach out to his mom and had the conversation about what has happened. 

“I give that weird piece of advice because you never know when it could come in handy. Remember your parents phone number,” said Smith. 

After that he shared his story of physical recovery, his struggles with survivor’s guilt and how much therapy helped him. He encouraged those in attendance to reach out to someone if they are struggling, especially those suffering in silence. To not take their relationships for granted. 

He shared how he was unable to cry, how he would scroll on his phone reading and watching about what was going on and could not shed a tear. 

“I tried to force tears out of me, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t actually processing it , anything, I wasn’t actually taking that first step,” said Smith. 

It wasn’t until the NHL awards in 2018 while on national television when he was able to cry. He said it was then when he was finally able to process that they were gone. 

After the presentation, Smith spoke to reporters along with Toby Boulet, and said this was in the making for a while and it was great to finally be able to make it happen. He said it was emotional to walk through the hallways Boulet used to walk through and to be in a place where he created such a strong foundation.

“It’s a heavy day and it’s an emotional day but I had a kid come up to me after the talk and he said how do I become an organ donor? The conversations are starting an I think for Toby and I our biggest thing is creating that awareness,” said Smith. 

He added that in sharing his story he hopes kids can learn about how important it is to take care of their mental health, to have a sense of belonging 

“Kids are struggling and I saw a stat that 44 per cent of kids feel like they don’t belong and I think that’s alarming and it’s honestly quite sad,” said Smith. 

He said he never anticipated to still be doing this type of presentation, but he knows that there is a lot of power in a story and hopefully some relatability. 

“I don’t have all the answers, but hopefully these kids can start thinking about things in a different perspective and thinking about their relationships in a different perspective whether it’s relationships with their friends or even their parents,” said Smith. 

When it comes to having Smith talking to the students at Winston Churchill, Toby Boulet said it meant a lot for him and his family. 

“To our family having Tyler come to Logan school high school and middle school today is a really big deal. It’s important to us that we’ve always tried to share with the other Broncos what Logan other than just being a Bronco,” said Boulet. 

He said Logan always wanted to be known as more than a hockey player and having Smith at his school to share his story in a time of history, post-COVID, was very important, especially to share the message that no matter what happens people are never alone. 

“Tyler talked about the power of a story. We believe hugely in the power of the story. Your grandparents, your mother, your father, your best friend, the next-door neighbour when you’re shovelling, take the time to hear their story because their story could be life changing for your story,” said Boulet. 

When asked about what he hopes those in attendance took away from his talk, Smith said there was two messages he hopes he conveyed. 

“Sign up to be an organ donor and remember that you’re allowed to do what’s best for you,” said Smith.

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