On Jan. 26 and 27, the CJ Smuin Memorial Hitting Camp will be held at the Carbon County Fairgrounds Event Center. The event will have two age groups participating and learning the fundamentals of the game, coached by Landon Wareham.
During the camp’s dinner, Brent Wareham will give a motivation speech on the importance of sportsmanship. CJ’s father Pat Smuin will also present a speech, along with mental health expert Nelvin Alderman and Zac Jones, president of the organization.
“The mission of the CJ Smuin Memorial Foundation is to bring about positive change in the lives of young people regarding suicide prevention, awareness,” stated the organization’s website. “We will achieve this by hosting camps, guest speakers, and other events focused around suicide prevention and awareness, support other organizations with similar goals, and through the CJ Smuin Memorial Baseball Scholarship.”
The mission continues, “We strive to grow awareness regarding suicide prevention and awareness. We can only do this by having conversations about life, the struggles we all face, and by working to make discussions about suicide less taboo and more open.”
Pat Smuin has spoke at the previous camps, sharing the family’s story and reflecting on CJ’s life.
“Me and CJ talked frequently about life, I remember one time he was pretty sad. I asked him, ‘have you ever thought about hurting yourself?’ CJ told me no, but it wasn’t a big part of our conversations. As I look back, I’m not sure why that wasn’t a thing we talked about the most,” Pat Smuin said in a previous speech.
He continued, “It is the one thing, if you make a bad decision, you can’t come back from. So, why wouldn’t that be the most important thing we talk about with our kids? As I look back on it, I wonder what I would have done if CJ would have come to me and said he was having those thoughts. Honestly, I think I would have said, ‘CJ you’re a great kid, I love you more than anything in the world, why do you have those thoughts?’ But what I know today, I would say the same thing and I would load him up and we’d go see a professional. As parents, we love our kids unconditionally, but we don’t have the tools to help these young kids in this situation. So, that is my number one; I wished I would have talked about suicide with CJ and about mental health.”
Another speaker at the banquet is credited as the reason the entire foundation is possible. Nicole Smuin, CJ’s mother, said that Jones came to the family and wanted to start the foundation and scholarship when they “couldn’t even see straight yet.”
“He put the whole thing in motion and did all the leg work to get our foundation up and going,” Nicole Smiun said. “We would have never been able to do it by ourselves at the time. He is patient with us even when we are a lot to deal with. We decided right from the start if we were going to put CJ’s name on something, it was going to be the best it could be – that doesn’t make us easy to work with some days. We will forever be grateful for all he has done for our family.”
CJ will always be remembered by those who knew him as happy, ambitious, loving and dedicated. He the ultimate competitor, no matter the game. He was a ballplayer, a hunter, a fisherman, a trash talker, and above all else, he was a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend to all who ever met him.
“We refuse to let the way CJ passed define him,” the foundation shared. “The CJ Smuin Memorial Foundation will continue to honor the way CJ lived through our efforts and by keeping his defining characteristics and memory close to our minds and hearts in all we do.”
To donate to the foundation or purchase tickets to this year’s dinner, visit cjsmuin.org.