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Charity on the court: Ruby Kayser, Kate Yoshimoto ace suicide prevention efforts

Sophomore+Kate+Yoshimoto+%2818%29+and+senior+Ruby+Kayser+%2849%29+stand+ready+to+return+a+serve+for+Colorado+State+University+Womens+Volleyball+team+during+a+match+against+Colorado+Boulder+Sept.+15.
Collegian | Aria Paul
Sophomore Kate Yoshimoto (18) and senior Ruby Kayser (49) stand ready to return a serve for Colorado State University Women’s Volleyball team during a match against Colorado Boulder Sept. 15. The Rams fell short of beating the Buffs, losing an early 2-0 lead and finishing with a loss of 2-3 at Moby Arena.

Late the night before Paddy Turner was scheduled to meet with the Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County to discuss his ongoing $20 for 20 Initiative, he received a text from Ruby Kayser asking to help out.

After some brainstorming and approval from the Alliance, Kayser joined together with teammate Kate Yoshimoto to create their own $20 for 20 campaign, pledging to donate $20 for every ace they scored, an adaptation of Turner’s original $20 for every punt within the opposing 20 yard line, encouraging potential donors to match the donations with however much they can.

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As of Monday, Dec. 4, Kayser and Yoshimoto’s initiative has received over $1,200 in combined donations from Kayser and Yoshimoto as well as others who donated to the Alliance through the campaign, according to Lorelai Allen, administrative assistant for the Alliance. 

Kayser knew once she saw Turner begin his initiative that she had to get involved as soon as possible.

“I think that it was just kind of a no brainer when I saw him doing that,” Kayser said. “Suicide and mental health is a really big deal to me, too. That’s an awareness that’s close to my heart and I know Kate cares about that a lot too, so I just wanted to find a way to get involved and I thought that (his initiative) was so smart. I’d never thought of raising money through my presence on the court, I never thought of that. I thought it was such a genius idea on Patty’s part and I was like I want to kind of bandwagon on that.”

Before getting started, Kayser had one problem that needed to be solved. She wanted to have a consistent influx of donations, but due to the highly variable nature of volleyball, particularly with getting aces, she knew she needed a partner.

That’s when she brought in Colorado State’s starting libero Yoshimoto.

“Sometimes it’s really like I could get five aces in a game or I could get no aces in a game,” Kayser said. “So I’m like, I want to make sure that we’re raising a lot of money and so I asked Kate to kind of jump on board with that so that we can work together with it.”

Why Yoshimoto specifically?

Turner, Kayser and Yoshimoto all met through CSU’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, an organization that promotes unity, community service and charity between student athletes. The three know each other very well, and when it came time to add someone to the campaign, Kayser knew Yoshimoto would complete the perfect trio.

“Kate and I are close friends but we also are primary servers on the team,” Kayser said. “My thing on the team is serving, that’s always been kind of my identity and so that’s why I picked aces over anything else. Then I was like, let me think of somebody who would do it with me. Kate’s also in SAAC with Patty and I so we all know each other pretty well and I knew she would be down to do it since she’s a pretty charitable person too.”

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With the two combined, they donated a total of $280 from the beginning of their initiative to the end of their season in the Mountain West tournament, Kayser announced via X, formerly known as Twitter.

The two defensive specialists said they try not to focus too hard on the exact amount of money during competition, but the initiative has still been a huge part of their play over the course of the season.

“During the game, (I don’t think about it), but it’s definitely something I think about after,” Yoshimoto said. “My parents will text me like ’20 more bucks!’ It’s definitely an exciting thing to play for.”

Kayser says she just tries to focus on disrupting the opponents and getting them out of system, preferring to just let the aces come as they may. Sometimes keeping a goal out of the mind is the best way to achieve it.

When you’re having a season-high day, however, it’s difficult to keep the tally out of the mind.

“There was a game against Nevada (where) I had four aces; that’s 80 bucks,” Kayser said. “My coach made a joke saying ‘Ruby, you’re going to go bankrupt if you keep serving this well!’ and I was like ‘shit you’re right!’ I think as long as I’m always going back there with the mentality of trying to disrupt the team, not necessarily always getting an ace but getting them out of system and the aces kind of come. So my actual mentality while I’m serving didn’t change but after I’d get an ace, I’d be like ‘Oh yay another 20 bucks!’ and I’d keep a mental note of it so I make sure I text Paddy afterwards and he’d send me a little graphic (to post) and be like ‘good job, mate!'”

Turner, who originally launched his campaign in late August, has been a consistent activist for suicide awareness after losing a childhood friend to suicide.

He praised Kayser and Yoshimoto’s efforts to aid in the fight against suicide and added that he would love to see the campaign continue to grow further beyond just the trio.

“(Their participation) means a lot,” Turner said. “It shows the personality of both those women. They’re very, very caring and loving people. It meant a lot to me and it meant a lot to other people as well that they’ve jumped on board and who knows, maybe there’ll be a couple other sports jumping on as well.”

The Alliance has not yet announced any further campaigns, but with the success of the $20 for 20 campaign, the demand is certainly there.

Through the actions of Kayser, Yoshimoto and Turner, the Alliance has been able to put thousands of dollars towards education for suicide prevention and make a difference in the fight against suicide.

“They have all been amazing partners in our constant efforts to prevent suicide in Larimer County,” Allen said. “We have been able to train thousands of adults and students in mental health awareness and suicide prevention. … I do believe that this organization is making a difference, as Larimer County suicide rates are thankfully on the decline.”

Will Engle can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @willengle44.

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