Jake was a beautiful child inside and out who made all around him either smile or laugh with his harmless and quirky nature. People were taken by his story of being born in the Ukraine in 1991 just as the Iron Curtain was coming down in Eastern Europe. He remained there until the age of two when he was adopted by Jim and Lea Eliopoulos.
Jake by all accounts had a very happy childhood and seemed to take both his ADHD and Tourette syndrome in stride. He did well in school surrounded by great friends and a supportive family. He welcomed his new siblings Derek (three years younger) and Zoe (six years younger) when Jim and Lea expanded their family.
Jake proved to be very athletic and enjoyed all sports but his passion was baseball. Jake was a talented pitcher and a great teammate. His outstanding baseball career had him proudly represent Canada on the International stage 11 times. Jake was drafted by MLB organizations for three straight years, including being selected the top high schooler in Canada in 2009. However, Jake never signed with an MLB team as he chose to return to school.
The DISEASE that mental illness is does not discriminate and a deep depression took hold of Jake after his Tommy John Surgery performed in December 2011. Jake and his family sought help from psychiatrists, hospitals and programs to try and lift his depression. However, the depression deepened and Jake no longer had the passion for most things, including the desire to play ball. He did seem to find some solace in simple pleasures. He had a genuine love of the outdoors and listening to country music. He was often out hiking in nature or going for long drives in the country listening to the lyrics of country music with his dog Max close by his side.
Depression would not let up and Jake attempted to take his life on several occasions as his family reached out desperately to try and save him but it felt like a losing battle as his idealization had taken hold. The medical care was somewhat helpful and Jake did try to carry on for a time but his depression was unrelenting.
Unfortunately for Jake and all who loved him, he had his own ideas for how to get the relief he so desperately sought and on April 29, 2013 at the age of 21 Jake freed himself from the seemingly unbearable pain and he succeeded in taking his life.
It is because of the incredible loss of Jake due to mental health issues who was a son, grandson, brother and friend to so many that we have been fully supportive of the Mental Health in Motion (formerly Ride Don't Hide) fundraiser. In honour of Jake, a team was formed shortly after his death in 2013 called “Team Jake” and since then we have raised over $117,000.00 in his honour.
The team has chosen to participate again in the Mental Health in Motion fundraiser being held on SUNDAY, JUNE 13th 2021 in Newmarket. This year event will be held virtual cause of COVID - 19
We invite all of those that knew and loved Jake to come join our "Team Jake" and ride with us or donate what you can (You can donate here) to make our labour of love be even bigger and better this year. All proceeds will be going to support programs with the Canadian Mental Health Association in York Region.
You can view the TSN video entitled A shooting star: youtube.com/watch?v=V2-gsuUotDc
or, the National Post Article “Losing Jake: Bright life, tragic death of a Toronto Blue Jays prospect” by Joe O’Connor: bit.ly/2lVk9HV
We love and miss you so much Jake. We will be riding this one for you.
Attachments area Preview YouTube video Shooting Star - The Jake Eliopoulos Story - TSN Original