Ginny and Kerry Dennehy
We made our home in West Vancouver with our two children, Kelty and Riley. But we were fortunate to have a townhome in Whistler where we spent every winter weekend and a good portion of the summer, enjoying all the wonderful opportunities Whistler offers an active family. In 1995 we moved to Whistler permanently; it was one of the best decisions we ever made as a family.
Kerry worked in real estate and I worked for IBM in the western region. Our jobs were quite transferable, allowing us to live the life we desired in Whistler. Kelty was entering seventh grade at Myrtle Philip School, as the new high school was just been built. Riley was starting grade four. Both children loved their life in Whistler. They easily made friends through their new school and through their extra actives: skiing, snowboarding, hockey, baseball and many more over the years.
Kerry was extremely involved in the community, writing “Kerry’s Corner” for the Whistler Question, coaching hockey and baseball, and playing on a men’s senior hockey team. During our early Whistler years I traveled a great deal for work and wasn’t able to be as involved locally as the rest of the family; but every time I got off that plane and made it back to Whistler I truly felt I was coming home. Our life was wonderful.
Our lives changed forever in 2001 when Kelty, then 17, took his life in our home in Whistler. He had shown signs of depression but at that time many of us were not educated in the way we are today about this disease. Even the medical community in Whistler was shocked that Kelty had taken his life; he’d seemed like such a “normal, happy child”. Kerry and I knew we had to do something to help others not travel the same journey we had so we started the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation here in Whistler. The main focus of the foundation is to raise awareness about depression and to remove the stigma of this disease. The Foundation raises funds for care, education, and research.
The foundation had raised over seven million dollars so far. Whistler has been extremely supportive in so many ways to our foundation. One of our main fundraisers, “A Weekend to Remember”, included a night at Buffalo Bills with Fabulous George and the Zodiacs followed by the DRIVE FORE LIFE, held at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Over the years other fundraising activities have included the RIDE FORE LIFE and DANCE FORE LIFE. A key component of all the events has been our efforts to remove the stigma of this disease and get youth involved.
In 2009 tragedy struck our family again. Riley, while in Thailand for a yoga course, separated her shoulder and went to a doctor. The doctor gave her some medication that triggered a heart attack. Riley was 23 when she died.
One cannot imagine losing one child; losing two is inconceivable. You wonder how you can go on. But we knew we had to: for our family, for our friends but most important of all, for our children: they would want us to go on and make a difference.
When I think about the journey we’ve been on I think we have been so fortunate to live in this community. Whistler not only gives back but also truly cares and wants to make a difference. Sometimes I do not think people realize how fortunate we are to live not only in the physical beauty of Whistler but to live among people who truly care and want to make a difference. I am proud to call Whistler not only my community but also my home.
You too may support the Dennehy’s legacy by making a gift to the Kelty & Riley Dennehy Scholarship Fund.
Or by referring students to the scholarships generated by the Kelty and Riley Dennehy Scholarship Fund. The scholarships will be awarded to students who stand out in unique ways, beyond academics and live and attend school in the Whistler area.