Grieving food truck family raises awareness, money after loved one's suicide

INGERSOLL – The owners of a popular Ingersoll food truck aim to raise suicide awareness by launching a new burger and donating proceeds to prevention work in honour of a family member.

That Food Truck, a family-run food stand, is launching the Big Brother Burger next Tuesday after losing Brayden Danahy, 22, a member of their large, blended family, on May 15. The new offering is dedicated to keeping alive the memory of Brayden – one of 12 brothers and sisters – while raising suicide awareness and donating sales proceeds to suicide prevention.

“I just wanted to dedicate something for him,” said food truck co-owner Anthony Pinheiro, Brayden's stepdad, “and put the proceeds to help out families and people that are in need.”

Since Brayden died last month in Kitchener, where he lived, the family has dedicated itself to breaking the stigma associated with suicide.

The Big Brother Burger – two patties, onions, cheese, lettuce, pickles and a secret sauce between two sesame seed buns – is a way for the family to reach others who may be in turmoil and raise money for the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.

Brayden was a fun, outgoing and generous guy, who’d “give his shirt off his back,” Pinheiro said.

He was interested in “anything with wheels,” added his mother, Kim Petersen. “It started off with skateboards, and then his BMX bike, and then his car and dirt bikes, ATVs, anything that had rubber tires that could move.”

Juanita Keddy is Pinheiro’s wife, Brayden’s stepmom and food truck co-owner. She said Brayden “loved his brothers and sisters” and was always willing to help if he could.

“You could ask him anything, and he would do it. It didn't matter; if he was able, he would do it,” she said.

Though Pinheiro and Petersen are divorced and have remarried, the family has remained close, Petersen said.

Suicide deaths are often kept quiet because of the associated stigma, said Petersen, but she “wasn’t ashamed of Brayden in life, so why would I be ashamed of his death?”

Even before the Big Brother Burger debuts next week, That Food Truck is already raising suicide awareness and collecting donations.

The business has been handing out suicide prevention buttons, key chains and decals for whatever donations people offer, Pinheiro said. So far, almost $2,700 had been donated to the suicide prevention council in Brayden’s name.

While working at the food truck, Pinheiro said they wear 9-8-8 pins, the number for the suicide crisis line that people who are struggling can call.

“Reach out for help if you're feeling crappy,” Pinheiro said. “It's OK not to be OK.”

Keddy said they plan to honour Brayden on the 22nd of every month, because he “will be forever 22.” Every 22nd order will be free, and That Food Truck will donate the value of the order to the suicide prevention council.

“He’s not going to go away,” Keddy said. “If we can save one person from doing it, he didn't die in vain.”

bwilliams@postmedia.com

Brian Williams, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press