By FELICIA KRIEG
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Forty-four teams will compete in the Mitch Kilkeary Memorial Golf Tournament on Sunday.
“It was above and beyond what we thought we were going to get,” participation-wise, said Keith Kilkeary, Mitch’s father.
The response was so great that the four-person team limit was expanded from 32 to 44, and 10 other interested teams have had to be turned away so far because of space constraints, said Mackenzie “Mack” Kilkeary, Mitch’s older brother.
“Just about everyone participating has some sort of connection to Mitch,” said Mack, who is 21.
Mitch was 19 when he died by suicide in April.
LOVED BY MANY
Mack has been coordinating the tournament since he and his cousin Kevin Kilkeary, 21, of Peru, had the idea a couple of months ago.
But the whole family has helped him along the way, and he couldn’t have done it without them, he said.
The Golf Tournament will be followed by a steak dinner at the Butcher Block restaurant, where $1,200 in prizes donated by area businesses will be distributed. Thirty-five local businesses are sponsoring holes on the golf course.
Mitch graduated from Plattsburgh High School in 2011 and had completed a semester at Clinton Community College, where he was majoring in wind-turbine technology and played on the college soccer team.
“When he walked into the room, he brightened (it) immediately,” Mack said.
He said friends of his brother have told him that every time they are reminded of Mitch, it brings a smile to their face.
“Everybody loved him,” Keith said.
In high school, Mitch participated in Drama Club, including a major role in the musical “Hairspray,” and played varsity soccer, a sport he enjoyed his whole life, Keith said.
Mitch enjoyed spending time with his friends and playing the ukulele, an art Mack taught him.
In the scholarship application introduction, which Mack wrote, he described his brother as bright and hardworking with a humorous, unforgettable personality.
Since his death, he has been deeply missed by his family and many friends.
Keith, Mack and Keith’s long-time girlfriend, Heather Ford, have been taking life one day at a time, they said. They thank everyone who has provided them with unwavering support in their time of need.
“The support has been unreal,” Mack said.
The day of Mitch’s funeral, “St. Peter’s Church was filled to the rafters,” Heather said, a testament to the mark Mitch left on those who had the privilege of knowing him.
Young people have an overwhelming number of pressures to deal with in their lives, including school and social stresses, Mack said.
“If you’re unhappy, try to get help,” he said. “No mistake is unfixable.”
The Mitchell Kilkeary Memorial Scholarship, a $1,000 award, will be given to two graduating seniors, one boy and one girl, from Plattsburgh High School each year. A panel of five PHS teachers who were close to Mitch have been chosen by his family and will be asked to select the scholarship winners each spring.
So far, between $5,000 and $6,000 has been donated to the fund.
Scholarship recipients will have qualities Mitch possessed, including “leadership qualities, extensive involvement in school activities and a concern for others.”
Mitch’s scholarship will enable other young people to chase their dreams, as he did.
“He was amazing,” Heather said.
HOW TO HELP
A remote car starter with installation from Alpha Stereo in Plattsburgh and a smokey quartz necklace from Kneucraft Fine Jewelry and Design will be raffled off at the Golf Tournament.
Tickets are $5 for one or $20 for five. To buy a raffle ticket or to donate to the scholarship fund, call Mack at 578-7233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Students can pick up an application for the Mitchell Kilkeary Memorial Scholarship at the Plattsburgh High School guidance office.
WHERE TO GET HELP
If you're considering suicide, you can get help by calling the following numbers: For counseling: Clinton County Mental Health, 565-4060. Essex County Mental Health Clinic, 873-3670; after-hour emergencies, (888) 854-3773. In northern Franklin County, around the clock, 483-3261; southern Franklin County, 891-5535.
For emotional crises: The toll-free Clinton County suicide hot line number is (866) 577-3836. Out-of-county calls are accepted but other options are: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-TALK (8255).
The Essex County Mental Health Association Hope Line, (800) 440-8074. That last number is staffed 24/7, but the phone system handles limited calls. If there's no answer, hang up and try again. Or call 911 or go to your closest emergency room.
Mary Anne Cox holds a Suicide Survivors Support Group in Plattsburgh the first Monday of every month. Register with her ahead of time at 563-1141.