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Heading into the 2013-14 school year, Tyler Haslam organized an event designed to help his student-athlete classmates come together to create a sense of unity and to encourage those with personal issues to realize that we all have struggles in life. Oh, and it needed to be fun.

That’s how Breaking Barriers took off through Haslam’s senior project. Other students picked up where Haslam left off to keep the idea going for the following two years. Dani Gerding, for example, helped Haslam that first year and then organized it for her senior project during the 2014-15 school year.

“I decided to do it for my senior project just to try to build school unity and kinda bring all the sports teams together to try to kick off the school year,” Haslam said Saturday while his mom, Lori Haslam, was running a similar event she called Burn Bootcamp. “There just hadn’t been very much school unity and pride, I guess, and I thought it would be something enjoyable for us to do.”

The event that Tyler organized six years ago carried an important message.

“I think the biggest thing with Breaking Barriers for me was that everyone’s got their own personal struggles and I think the biggest thing is to be able to be open and talk about struggles and reach out for help,” he said, “and to be supported by the community, your friends and your sports teams and coaches and to be vulnerable if you have some problems.”

Those who participated went through various challenges, an obstacle course for example, meant to create unity. Haslam said afterward, former pro football player Carlos Nuno spoke to the students, as well as his wife, dietitian Natasha Nuno, who spoke about sports nutrition.

His mom, Lori, wanted to bring back the same idea with this past Saturday’s event. The student-athletes went through a workout and then listened to Oregon State men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle.

“My mom, she does way too much,” Tyler said with a laugh. “She puts her heart and soul into everything but it’s just because she wants the kids to have a good experience.”

Tyler begins nursing school in September. My best wishes to him on taking the next step in his own life.

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