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Canadian broadcaster Michael Landsberg coming to Woodstock to spread message of hope

By Bruce Chessell, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Michael Landsberg (File photo)

Michael Landsberg (File photo)

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Due to his own struggles with depression, renowned Canadian sports broadcaster Michael Landsberg said he feels a kinship with Woodstock.

On Thursday, Landsberg is hosting a free event at the Woodstock District Community Complex called Sick Not Weak Stock, which will feature a variety of speakers from the sporting world sharing their stories.

“I now work with a group of people, we put together an initiative called Sick Not Weak and our mandate is to reach and help that lonely person,” Landsberg said. “That’s the first thing we ever decided, that that was our missions.”

Landsberg said that the sense of loneliness almost always comes with depression.

“Almost everybody that has experienced it will say, ‘yeah, you know what, I’ve always felt like I was alone,’” he said. “But, if you go to an event like we’re going to be doing on Thursday night, all of a sudden you feel a little less alone. Which in itself is a success, but also you’re more likely to reach out for help and share with someone, and you’re more likely to realize that you can fight this thing.”

The goal of the evening is as far away from medical as possible, Landsberg said, adding that they are trying to bring out two things: Hope and joy. He hopes that people will come and feel a sense of optimism towards the illness.

“We’re looking ahead, not back,” he said. “This isn’t about really what’s happened in this community, but rather what can happen in the future.”

The former TSN Off The Record host said he first heard of the recent tragedies that had befallen Woodstock last week during the student walkout. Landsberg said somebody had tweeted about the walkout, which made him start thinking about why his group, Sick Not Weak, exists.

“It exists… to reach that one lonely person,” he said. “So I thought, wow, there must be a lot of people who are suffering badly. Maybe I can use my name to invite a couple of people to come out and maybe we can put on a show for them.

“That will A: entertain them, and B: reach that lonely person,” Landsberg added. “So I heard about it last week and this all came together instantly.”

Landsberg’s event will feature a number of speakers, including head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs Mike Babcock, Los Angeles Kings hockey player and Woodstock native Jake Muzzin, Canadian UFC fighter Sam Stout, as well as some football players and some musicians who are going to play at the event as well. Landsberg said that there will also be some local speakers taking the stage to share their stories as well.

“We’re trying to bring a lot of different aspects to this,” he said. “People who’s name like Mike Babcock you recognize, throw in some music, music that also has a message, and bring in some local people to give us some perspective.”

Landsberg will also take the stage to share his message, one that he said he shares every day of his life.

“I have been to a really, terribly sick place. The deep-dark whole of depression,” he said. “I felt the hopelessness, and I felt the loneliness, and I felt the fear, and I felt the pain that ultimately was incredibly difficult to handle. I can be on the stage Thursday night and say even though I didn’t get cured, I am living my life.

“I can experience joy,” Landsberg added, “and that to me is the most profound symptom of depression, the inability to experience joy.”

After all of that, Landsberg said he is an example of hope.

“Look at me, I made it back. Look at me, I’m the person that wore the mask,” he said. “I did 500 T.V. shows, severely depressed and not once did anyone say are you OK. Proving that people who have this illness get very good at faking it. That is something that parents need to know about their kid, is that they seem OK doesn’t necessarily mean they are OK.”

To find out more about Landsberg’s group Sick Not Weak, visit their website at www.sicknotweak.com. Those interested in going to Sick Not Weak Stock on Thursday can get tickets (free of charge) at Eventbrite (http://ow.ly/BGAL301cZml).

 

bchessell@postmedia.com

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IF YOU GO

 

Sick Not Weak Stock

 

Thursday, June 16 at 7 p.m.

 

Woodstock District Community Complex

 

Admission is free, registration ahead of time required