BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Players in tonight’s Serra-Mitty high school football game will be wearing special socks as a result of Serra quarterback Luke Bottari’s effort to raise awareness about teen suicide and depression.
The socks are white with two red bands and bear the logo of Bottari’s nonprofit, Play4Prevention, which he started after the suicide of a close friend and former girlfriend in April.
The quarterback of the San Mateo Catholic high school said the goal of his nonprofit is to eliminate the stigma of teens seeking help for depression.
Bottari said his friend’s death in April was “sudden.”
“When me and all of my friends in that group found out, we were shocked by it,” he told the Post yesterday.
The tragedy caused Bottari to think about ways teens could get help with depression or other mental health issues. In May, he came up with the idea for Play4Prevention.
He got some help setting up the nonprofit from his coach, Patrick Walsh. Walsh assisted by making Play4Prevention part of his own nonprofit, Next Level Sports Foundation. That allowed for Bottari to get Play4Prevention up and running just months after coming up with the idea.
“He told me that it’s a really long process to start your own 501(c)(3) nonprofit … so this has been a huge help,” Bottari said.
Bottari has also gotten help from his mom, Natasha Bottari, and family friend Ron Amos, who helped Bottari put the website together and order the socks that will be worn at tonight’s game.
Bottari said he chose socks because “everyone wears them,” and it’s one of the few pieces of equipment for football where the teams don’t have to wear a specific brand.
Idea picks up momentum
Athletes at other schools are wearing the socks too. The San Mateo High School girls volleyball team wore them at their tournament yesterday and both Sequoia and Hillsdale football players will be wearing them in their game tonight.
The Bay City Basketball League will also be supporting Play4Prevention at its tournament this weekend.
“I want to get this across the Peninsula in the next year or so and maybe even across the state. I want to expand this,” Bottari said, who plans on studying business in college.
At tonight’s game at Serra, Play4Prevention will have a table where the socks will be on sale. There will also be information about SafeSpace, a Menlo Park nonprofit where teens can get assistance with mental health problems.
The game, which is Serra’s homecoming, is at 6:40 p.m. (Oct. 6) at the school, 451 W. 20th Ave. in San Mateo.
Anyone in crisis can get help from the Santa Clara County Suicide & Crisis Hotline at (855) 278-4204. Help is also available via Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. All three services are free, confidential and available 24/7.