May 20, 2021

January 16, 2018 is a day I will never forget.   We lost a bright light, friend, brother, son, grandson, nephew and teammate.   Tyler was one of my son Noah’s best friends and they were teammates on the Washington State University football team.  Tyler played quarterback and Noah played center and offensive line, so they saw each every day.  When I would see them together there was always laughter, camaraderie, and anticipation for what the future had in store for them.  Football is a year-round sport in college and not only do the players consider each other brothers, but the families create a tight unique bond.   I have such wonderful memories spending time with Tyler’s parents Mark and Kym, and always chuckled when I saw Tyler and his mother Kym together, as Tyler’s eyes lit up when he saw his Mom and got to spend time with her on game weekends.   He had a fabulous relationship with his Dad and brothers as well, but as a Mom, I always had such a warm feeling when I saw Tyler’s interactions with his Mom. 

Much of what is written below comes from the Hilinski’s Hope website as no one can talk about Tyler better than his family.   Many describe Tyler as the happiest person in any room and on any field.  He always had a smile on his face and kind words for his friends and teammates.  Tyler threw his first touchdown at WSU as a red-shirt sophomore in the Arizona game, a 71-yard bomb to River Cracraft. But, perhaps Tyler will best be remembered for his play in the Boise State game. Ty was put into the game in the 4th quarter with less than 10 minutes to play and WSU was down 31-10.  Three overtimes later, Tyler threw the game winning touchdown to Jamal Morrow. WSU fans rushed the field and the WSU players hoisted Tyler on their shoulders. From that moment on, Tyler became known as the “Comeback Kid”.

Just a few months later Tyler died by suicide on January 16, 2018.  Tyler never showed any signs of depression or struggle. On the day he passed he went to football practice at 7am but failed to show up for the teams afternoon weight lifting session.

Although Tyler always believed in happy endings and that good was around every corner, Tyler simply couldn’t endure the pain he must have been suffering.

The Hilinski’s Hope Foundation (H3H) was founded in 2018 by Mark and Kym Hilinski to honor the life of their son Tyler. H3H helps colleges and universities save lives, eliminate stigma, and scale mental wellness programs for student-athletes. H3H does this by sharing Tyler’s story, connecting students with mental health resources, and assisting universities to institutionalize best practices. 

H3H envisions a world where mental health is supported in parity with physical health and equally prioritized by universities as connected to athletic performance.

May 16-23 is our Inaugural Wine Country Auction Fundraiser! Bid on a range of items, including Darius Rucker VIP tickets, a private dinner in Atlanta with Chef Chris Hall and Collective Soul’s Ed Roland, and a roast with Chef Todd Rushing at Reynolds Family Winery.   Teneral Cellars is proud to support this event and will continue to support the efforts of Hilinski’s Hope moving forward.   Check out these great items and know that your support will help eliminate the stigma around mental illness.


Today is Mental Health Action Day (Thursday, May 20th).  Learn how you can take action by looking at our social pages at Teneral Cellars.  In honor of Tyler, I also ask that you reach out to 3 people today and tell them you see them, love them and are there for them.   You may just save a life with this simple act of kindness. 


If you have concerns about your or someone else’s mental health, please contact a medical professional or call 800-273-TALK (8255) for a free, confidential conversation.


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