Jared's Keepers Foundation, Inc began in 2014 following the suicide of 17-year-old Jared Martin. Jared was on a fast path to a career in the soccer world. To all that were around him, coaches, teachers, friends, and classmates, Jared did not show the pain he struggled with on a daily basis. Jared's mother and step-father had known his struggles from a very young age. Jared was caught between loving his mother, father, and family since the age of 2. During a long divorce process, Jared was the focus of his paternal grandmother. Shortly after the divorce papers were filed, Jared's grandmother filed papers to seek custody of Jared away from both parents. Shortly after those papers were filed they were dropped after a United States Supreme Court ruling on Grandparents Rights. After three long years of divorce hearings sole custody was granted to his mother. Jared struggled for several years and was in intense therapy. When Jared would visit his father, Jared would not receive his medication as his father, and his father's family, did not feel the medication was necessary. Jared was able to learn coping mechanisms to handle his anger issues.
When Jared was 13 his father took his life by suicide. During the visitation and funeral services, the hatred his father's family had for his mother showed clear to all. Jared's father was a small town police chief and news spread quickly. A media frenzy encompassed the services.
In the weeks that followed more court papers came. Again, the grandparents were seeking full custody. When they realized that would not be possible they sought the rights of their deceased son without the responsibilities. Jared again began to struggle but was able to find peace on the soccer field.
Jared's grief became motivation on and off the field to be the best he could be. It was not until after his death people, young and old, began to share stories of his kind and gentle side. Stories from women who worked late night sporting events that Jared would stay with to ensure they were safe getting to their cars, and those who were often overlooked by their peers, he would take the time to listen to their stories and jokes. He would be the kind listening ear to those around him that struggled. In times of need, he was there. In 2010 the Great Flood in Nashville, TN hit. The small town where Jared lived was hit hard and even flooded his beloved elementary school. Jared volunteered along side the Red Cross for days on end. He helped to deliver food, carry supplies from the food bank to cars, and put on his gloves and helped local residents tear out water soaked drywall and destroyed property. Jared never shied away from anyone in need.
As the news of Jared's suicide began to spread, young people began to step forward and ask for help. Not just for themselves but for their peers. The statement "if it can happen to Jared it can happen to me" was spoke often.
One young lady wanted to do more and asked if I would help. Jared's Keepers began as a team walking in the Music City Out of the Darkness walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In the years to follow, Jared's Keepers Foundation, Inc has grown rapidly and expanded around the globe through their grassroots efforts and real life approach at reaching our teen and young adult communities.
Today Jared's Keepers Foundation, Inc is active in schools with Keeper Clubs. These groups are fully funded by Jared's Keepers Foundation and are trained to work along side the school faculty to help in mental health crisis interventions and standing beside their peers in seeking help. Jared's Keepers also speak at civic groups and conduct training for various groups including Emergency Responders.
Jared Martin was a smart, outgoing, athletic standout in the world of soccer. Jared was a leader on and off the field. He played position of goalie AKA Keeper. In the days following Jared's suicide the word "Keeper" took on a deeper meaning to all who knew Jared. Jared was the Keeper of true friendship. He was the Keeper of his mother and family. He was the Keeper to those who were often overlooked by their peers. Jared's spirit lives on today through the work of this foundation.
Deb Martin is the President and Co-Founder of Jared's Keepers Foundation, Inc. She works endless hours supporting teens who are struggling, educating schools, communities and parents on the risks, warning signs, and how to avoid a loss to suicide by a teen. Deb travels the world wherever she is called.
Kelsey, former Director of Student Outreach & co-founder. She had many ideas and organized the first Keeper Club. She was the driving force with Deb to get the foundation to a place where it could stand alone. Kelsey has graduated from UT Knoxville and has married. We miss Kelsey and wish her the best of luck.
Bob teamed up with Jared's Keepers Foundation, Inc in 2019. Bob is a former NFL player for the Detroit Lions and shares his story with his own struggles of suicidal thoughts and the ultimate loss of his brother.
Ashley is a high school teacher and one of the first Keeper Club Sponsors. Ashley is a volunteer with JKF and receives no stipend from her school to sponsor the club. She is loved by her students who see her as a safe person to reach out to in times of crisis. Ashley has taken on a strong role in the foundation.
Tavarus and Kolten are our LGBTQ Ambassadors. They are active within the community and are quick to lend support to those feeling alone. They each have a unique story that led them to where they are today. We are proud to have them on our team!
CJ has served as an Ambassador for us for several years. Raised in the Virgin Islands, CJ attended college in the States and played soccer. He enjoys coaching and mentoring young people and extending a supporting hand to anyone who needs it. CJ is currently in the US Navy serving as an Air Traffic Control Specialist