Mission & History

On March 2nd, 2001, Kerry and Ginny Dennehy lost their 17 year old son, Kelty, after a short battle with depression, otherwise known as the 'Silent Killer'. Devastated by the loss of their beautiful son and determine to prevent others from traveling the same journey, The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation was founded that same year

Kelty was a popular boy growing up in Whistler, surrounded by many friends and his younger sister, Riley, the apple of his eye. He was a kind and generous young man that knew from a young age the value of giving back. Kelty was a strong athlete, gifted in golf and hockey, as well as an honour student at Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan with aspiration of attending Bishop University in Quebec and then law school. Unfortunately for Kelty, this did not happen. The disease of depression had taken over his life and convinced him that to end his life would be better for everyone. In the note he left, Kelty wrote;

"No one will understand this depression, this depression is in my mind."

Following their son's footsteps of giving back, the Dennehy's through the foundation are helping those that suffer from depression, as well as their families and friends by helping them better understand the disease. With a focus to remove the stigma of mental health diseases and to raise needed funds for projects in the area of care, education and research, The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation went on to raise over 4.1 million dollars.

Tragedy hit the Dennehy family again in 2009 when they lost their daughter Riley. When Kelty took his life, this loving and gentle soul not only lost her brother she lost her best friend. In a family when a member suffers with depression, the whole family is affected and suffers along with them. Riley developed an eating disorder and faced challenges with alcohol as she fought the pain that she carried with her. Riley went on to graduate from the Vancouver Film School, but at 23, she had finally found peace and solace in yoga. While traveling in Thailand to further her yoga studies, Riley died of a heart attack from strong medication prescribed to manage the pain for a separated shoulder.

These words were so eloquently sung by her uncle at her funeral service;

"In a coffee shop in Thailand she finally got the news, the person she was looking for was standing in her shoes. She got the answer to her question; a truth for all to see what matters most is who you are and who you want to be."

Even more determined to help others after the loss of their two children, Kelty and Riley, Ginny and Kerry along with the Foundation's board of directors, and a strong team of supporters and donors continue along this long journey of changing how the world see depression and fund much needed projects and programs across the country.

Here are just a few facts about depression and mental illness that can not be ignored:

  1. Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time though a family member, friend or colleague.
  2. 50% of all psychological disorders emerge before 14 years of age and 75% before the age of 24.
  3. Teenage suicide in Canada is an epidemic that we need to take very seriously. Teenage suicide is the 2nd cause of death in Canada and the 3rd cause in the US. For each completed suicide it is estimated that there are 100 attempts (Statscan)
  4. A nationwide survey of Canadian Youth by Statistics Canada found that 6.5% - more than a 1/4 million youth and young adults between the age of 15-24 met the criteria for major depression
  5. Only 25% of young people with a mental health problem receive professional help. (Bianco & al., 2008)
  6. If not recognized and treated in early stages, mental illness can progress and become entrenched and more difficult to treat in adulthood but once the depression recognized help can make a difference for 80% allowing them to get back to their regular activities (IWK Health Centre Halifax)


It is up to us to be educated in what to look for in someone who is suffering from depression. It is up to us to not judge and understand that depression is a mental illness and those that suffer do not necessarily have a choice. Depression is not a character flaw. This disease needs as much funding, attention, and supporters as the diseases out there such as cancer, heart disease, MS, etc. People who suffer from these diseases need the care, education, and research as do those suffering from depression.

Together we can make a difference, but only with your help!