- Eric Martinez
14th annual Beacon of Hope 2023 Community Luncheon featured Dak Prescott & Solomon Thomas
For over a decade, the luncheon has committed to sharing stories of hope while raising vital funds for Grant Halliburton Foundation’s mental health and suicide prevention programs. The Foundation was established to assist with providing education, resources, and support for children, teen, and young adults mental health. In 2006, The Grant Halliburton Foundation was established in memory of Grant Halliburton, a Dallas teen who battled depression and bi-poloar disorder for several years before his suicide death at the age of 19. The Foundation that bears his name helps families and young people recognize the signs of mental illness through a variety of avenues, including education, collaboration, and connection.
This year’s moderator was Andy Adler, who is CBS 11 Sports Anchor and Children’s rights activist. Featured speaker, Dak Prescott, who is the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback and team captain. Prescott earned recognition for his leadership on and off the field and was named the 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Dak’s willingness to share his family’s story and talk openly about his own mental health challenges has started a conversation across our country.
He established the Faith, Fight Finish Foundation as a tribute for his mother, Peggy, who lost her battle with colon cancer in 2013, and their work honors his brother, Jace, who died by suicide in 2020. The foundation invests in a better future by empowering individuals, families, and communities to find strength through adversity. Mental health and suicide prevention was Dak’s main speaking points today, and believes his goal is to provide as many resources for every person struggling with mental illness by helping them to know their life matters and that they are not alone.
Solomon Thomas is a Dallas native that has played six seasons in the NFL as a defensive tackle, and currently plays for the New York Jets. Solomon experienced an unimaginable loss five years ago, when his big sister Ella died by suicide. This traumatic and personal loss led to the Thomas family to start The Defensive Line foundation that focuses on mental health and suicide prevention. Solomon has dedicated his life to sharing Ella’s story and his vulnerability was demonstrated this afternoon. His courage to share his experience through national media outlets like CNN, ESPN, The New York Times and many more established him as a respected advocate throughout the NFL and among communities across the country. Solomon Thomas was the recipient of the 2019 ASFP Lifesavers Award and works closely with the NFL to improve mental health programming in the league. He also was nominated for the 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
Both Prescott and Thomas spoke on strength by Faith, and the encouragement of hope. Dak Prescott emphasized his personal belief in not knowing why things like this happen, but to put his Faith first and in his words, “1 life to save 1000 lives” is how he carries himself in honor of his brother, Jace. Upon the conclusion of an encouraging conversation, the 2023 Beacon of Hope Light award winners were presented to Dak Prescott and Solomon Thomas. The emotions in the ballroom echoed as a standing ovation brought Dak and Solomon to smiles and a noticeable moment of gratitude and humbleness. As they received the award, the message was important, “advance the work and mission by education, encouragement, and connection.”