NORTHBROOK – In many ways, she is the type of person their organization hopes to inspire as they grow in the future.

Abby Schyman, a recent graduate of Glenbrook North High School, may have been busy with a number of activities during her four years, but she always made sure to pay some time to what was on other’s minds.

“As someone who has struggled with their mental health, it’s a passion of mine to help others,” said Schyman. “To spread kindness, to just end the stigma of mental health and mental illnesses.”

It was that attitude and action that made her a candidate for a scholarship sponsored by the family of a classmate who struggled with his own mental health. Schyman was awarded the BrEpic Leadership Award from the Northbrook public relations firm with the same name created by Justin Breen.

(Courtesy: Justin Breen/BrEpic Communications)

It’s sponsored by the Dylan Buckner Foundation, one that is named for the Glenbrook North student and standout quarterback for the Spartans who committed suicide on January 7, 2021. Started by his parents Chris and Karen, awarding scholarships is one way in which they’ve begun their fight to raise awareness along with aid those dealing with mental health struggles.

“We have to talk about it. We have to break the stigma of mental illness,” said Chris Buckner of the reasons for creating the foundation. “If Dylan would have gotten some type of cancer or been in some car accident and broken bones in his legs, we would have known about that right away, and yet he struggled with mental illness for a long time before he made his first attempt on his life.

“I would say with 100 percent confidence that I was an above-average parent and was paying attention, but we had absolutely no idea. He just seemed to have this perfect life, could do anything, and everybody loved him, and come to find out that he didn’t feel that. So, again, why didn’t his friends know, why didn’t we know in a way you’d know.”

(Courtesy: Chris Buckner)

That’s motivated the two main goals of the Dylan Buckner Foundation: Spread awareness of mental health issues and the need for those suffering to get help while also helping to fund alternatives to traditional pharmaceutical treatments.

Buckner says that they’re already working with Stanford Medical School on some alternative methods to treating those dealing with mental illness.

As those continue, the foundation hands out scholarships like the one to Schyman, as a way to salute those who are doing their part to spread the message on mental health. Glenbrook North students Simon Klein and Aaliyah Kelly were also awarded the Dylan Buckner Memorial Scholarship in 2022 as well.

“I’m in my early 50’s now, but I definitely view my contribution to the future of the world is lessening and feel good about the fact that these young people, like Abby, are gonna be taking over, if you will,” said Buckner.

Schyman is ready to do so as she starts classes at the University of Miami, Florida this fall, continuing what she did at Glenbrook North.

“Just continue to spread kindness and be compassionate and always be there for my friends,” said Schyman. “You don’t know what people that you meet are going through. You don’t know what happened that morning or what happened that week before. It’s really important just to be kind to everyone because you don’t know what they’re going through.”

(Courtesy: Chris Buckner)

WGN News Now featured the Dylan Buckner Foundation on this edition “Mind Always Matters,” a segment that spotlights the importance of mental health in sports and what people are doing to raise awareness. You can watch Larry Hawley’s segment in the video above.

To learn more about the Dylan Buckner Foundation on their website, click here.

Follow recent updates from the foundation on social media by clicking here.