Kaleb and Banks were sitting on the back of the bus, heading to a wrestling tournament. It was so early that it was still dark outside. They were making jokes about being off weight and looking forward to the day. “I thought those days would never end. Kaleb Wright was one of my best friends and committed suicide.”

When Banks was a sophomore in high school, he became friends with Kaleb, the senior superstar on the wrestling team. Kaleb was a role model for many students, always present and supportive, making jokes, and serving as a leader. But underneath the joyful, outgoing persona, Kaleb was a deeply struggling teenager. Even as one of his closest friends and teammates, Banks had no idea the grim reality of how much pain Kaleb was in – nor did anyone else.

“When you go to school every day and see your best friend and then he’s not there, it’s like a piece of you is gone.”

After Kaleb passed, Banks and a group of his friends attended the Walk for Hope in Kaleb’s honor, carrying his senior banner, and he has continued to Walk almost every year since. Banks is now on a mission to help other struggling teens, especially young men, by speaking up, raising awareness to eliminate stigma, and supporting life-saving research. Without Kaleb, Banks wouldn’t be the person he is today, and he thinks of him often. “The memories of people that are not with us will live on forever, and they will always be missed.”

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