Brainerd hockey tournament looks to turn tragedy into hope

BRAINERD, Minn. — Hockey players from around the region took part in a massive tournament to raise awareness of mental health and suicide this past weekend.

The Jake Haapajoki Memorial Cup is named for a 16-year-old from Brainerd who died by suicide two years ago.

His family hosts the tournament for teams from all over the Upper Midwest, including Fargo.

Over the weekend, 44 teams gathered for the cup. Players from 9 to 45 years old took part in the one-day event in Brainerd.

Haapajoki's family has also started organizations to raise awareness about suicide prevention, including Smiles for Jake and The Lighthouse Project . More information can also be found on the Smiles for Jake Facebook page .

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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