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Kelowna  

Fighting through the pain

Tom Budd chokes back tears when he tells the tragic story of his two sons' suicides – but sharing it has given him new purpose in life.

Budd, a well-known philanthropist, hit the streets of Kelowna on his bicycle Wednesday for Bell Let's Talk Day.

He's making the rounds of media outlets and coffee shops to not only tell his story, but support others in their mental health struggles.

"My second son died nine months ago today," Budd said ... "and five months ago, I didn't care if I lived or died."

Budd says he wondered: "what's next?" after the deaths of his boys, Dylan and Peyton.

"But, at some point, I could feel 'I don't want to die, I need to live' – from that point on, I put one foot in front of the other and started talking to people."

Now, he says, people call him about their kids and their problems with depression, and he regularly puts his name out there as a contact for those who just need someone to talk to in similar situations.

"I got some shitty cards dealt to me, but I had two choices. One, backwards into the ground, and the other, moving forward.

"Opening up and talking saved me ... it's what saved my life."

Budd seemingly had it all. One of Canada's top investment bankers, he admits he never enjoyed the moment and was fearful of losing it.

"I was a success because I was out of balance ... I hit the wall," he said.

"Was the price worth it? No – I want my kids back."

"It made me look at myself ... When I got divorced, I knew I had to be there for my children, I became a really good dad," he said through tears.

He describes his resilience as a spiritual journey, and his new purpose – to get people through the fear of being vulnerable. Indeed, he's taken his message to jails, schools, and anyone who will listen.

"You can do this, talk to people, get the pain out. I can say I have hope to today and a purpose to help others."

– with files from Rob Gibson

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