A little more than 17 years have passed since the death of Philip Cardin, who died by suicide Nov. 7, 2003. He was just 15 years old, and a Cocalico High School sophomore.
In the months after his death, a group of nine Cocalico High School students created a suicide prevention awareness group, coining it Aevidum, which means, “I got your back.”
Aevidum has since become a non-profit organization, with student groups at more than 500 schools across Pennsylvania and beyond.
In just about every year since 2004, an annual Aevidum Lacrosse Night has been held in some form by the Cocalico girls lacrosse team. This year’s edition came Tuesday night when Cocalico traveled to Ephrata. In a way, it sort of brought things full circle.
Before his death, Philip played for the Ephrata boys club lacrosse program - Cocalico didn’t yet have a boys lacrosse program. The Ephrata team practiced on a field across from Ephrata High School, less than a mile from where Ephrata now plays its games on a turf field across from Ephrata Intermediate Middle School.
Philip’s mother, Mary Beth Cardin, was the first Cocalico girls lacrosse head coach. Philip’s younger sister, Maggie Myers (maiden name Cardin), played lacrosse for Cocalico in the mid-2000s alongside teammate Courtney Reinhold.
Maggie Myers is now a teacher at Ephrata Intermediate Middle School and the Mountaineers’ girls lacrosse head coach, with mother Mary Beth Cardin serving as an Ephrata assistant. Reinhold is now the Cocalico girls lacrosse coach. That trio was on the same field for Tuesday’s Aevidum Lacrosse Night.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Mary Beth Cardin said of Tuesday’s events. “It really is. ...The fact that these girls are carrying on the message is really special. It’s a message that can really spread. And it doesn’t always have to be a huge message. It can be a small message.”
Like those on the Hershey’s chocolate bars given to Cocalico and Ephrata girls lacrosse players prior to Tuesday’s game. On the chocolate bar is a sticker, “Aevidum, I’ve got your back."
“Each player on each team gets two chocolate bars,” Maggie Myers said. “ One to keep and one to give away to someone else.”
Prior to the game, all the players wore black warm-up shirts. On the front in white lettering is the word, “Aevidum,” with, “Teaming up against depression” in yellow lettering underneath.
The shirts were purposely purchased by the players, raising a total of $190 to be donated to Aevidum.
“I don’t think you ever overcome it,” Myers said of her brother’s death. “Every time I tell it, it feels like the first time for me. ...it has since turned into a positive message. ...You might be feeling down. But this is about us saying, ‘What can we do to be there for you?”
The outcome of Tuesday’s game, an 18-2 win in favor of Cocalico, was sort of expected from a strong Eagles program that reached District 3-2A semifinals and PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals two years ago against a long-struggling Mountaineers’ program with a second-year coach in Myers.
Cocalico senior midfielder Hannah Custer, an NCAA Division I University of Richmond recruit, tallied a game-high six goals.
But the score and the stats didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.
“Doing something like this where we can come together as two schools,” Reinhold said. “Celebrating over the same thing and working towards the same thing, making sure everyone knows someone has always got their back. ...It’s an amazing feeling.”
If interested in donating to Aevidum, visit aevidum.com/cms. If you or someone you know are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Llifeline at 1-800-273-8255.