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Bubba Ganter

Bubba Ganter was the guest speaker at the inaugural Live 2 Play FUNraiser in late September. Ganter is a native of Flagstaff and survivor of attempted suicide. An outstanding Coconino High football player, Ganter was awarded a full ride college scholarship when injuries cut his football career short. Later he entered the entertainment business as a bodyguard, and later made appearances in music videos and in films such as “A Texas Payback,” “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Soldier’s Story.” More recently Ganter has been a regular on Nickelodeon programs such as “Game Shakers” and BET’s “The Family Business.” He became involved with We Care NAZ through his personal struggles and attempted suicide, and now volunteers time to share his story with local schools.

Northern Arizona community partners gathered for the first Live 2 Play FUNraiser September 19 and 20, an event that raised more than $55,000 for local suicide prevention efforts.

Suicide rates have doubled in recent years, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office reported, and calls for mental health and suicide-related issues increased by 140% from 2009 to 2017. Local initiatives like Stronger as One, which aims to train 50,000 people in Mental Health First Aid by 2023, and Live 2 Play are working to reduce these statistics.

“We hope to increase awareness, education, training and resources as we focus on making a positive difference in suicide prevention,” said Brian Parrish, Interim CEO of Navajo Gaming.

The Live 2 Play fundraiser, hosted by Navajo Gaming, Native Americans for Community Action and We Care Northern Arizona Foundation, included a golf tournament, silent and live auctions, dinner and guest speaker Bubba Ganter, a Hollywood actor from Flagstaff and survivor of attempted suicide.

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Ganter, a former Coconino High School football player, now works with We Care NAZ to share his story with local schools.

“Every day I strive to help someone else through depression or suicide attempts. As I talk with these kids, I break down. No kid should have to go through the thought of taking their life,” Ganter said during his presentation.

Sponsors for the event included Twin Arrows Casino Resort, Swire Coca-Cola USA, Legacy Beverage, Labatt Food, NAU Athletics, Peddler's Son Produce, Sign Vision and Coconino County. All proceeds will benefit We Care NAZ and NACA’s suicide prevention efforts.

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