‘Focus on life’

Published 10:01 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Suffolk native has created an anti-suicide foundation in honor of the grandson of his former Booker T. Washington High School teammate.

Willard Bailey decided to create the foundation in honor of Tyler Lee, a Virginia Beach native who died last month at the age of 20. Lee’s grandfather, John L. Boone, was Bailey’s teammate during their high school days.

“One of the main objectives is for us to listen more intently to our young people,” said Bailey, who runs Central International College, a religious-based institution in Lynchburg. “We’re trying to avoid kids’ efforts or tendencies to get overly involved in self-destruction.”

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Bailey said the foundation will work to steer young people from things like suicide, homicide, accidents and AIDS.

“Every week on our campus, we will be talking about one of these areas in detail,” Bailey said. “We want to jump on this thing with all fours and do everything we can do to get young people to focus on life and the value of living. We want to do everything we can do to help them make better decisions.”

Boone, Lee’s grandfather, encouraged young people to talk to adults if they are having problems.

“If you’ve got any kind of problems, come to us and let us know,” he said, adding his grandson’s death hit him hard. “It’s the worst thing that’s ever hit my heart since my mother and father died.”

He said his grandson, who enjoyed playing video games, listening to music and playing basketball and was a construction worker, was deserving of having the foundation named after him.

“He lived a good life, but he left us so young,” Boone said.

Bailey said the foundation will focus on suicide prevention and other self-destructive tendencies.

“We feel there’s a lot of things we can do, beginning with communicating more effectively with our young people,” he said. “If we can stop one child from taking his own life, it will be successful.”

For more information, email Bailey at wbailey5@yahoo.com.