By Zach Tuggle, Mansfield News Journal (Link to News Journal original story)

MANSFIELD – Rays of light broke through the clouds to illuminate the Westbrook Country Club just as dozens of friends and family gathered last week in memory of Danielle Leedy.

They were attending the first fundraiser for 33 Forever, a new non-profit that Leedy’s mom, Donna Heck, step father, Jeff Heck and the rest of Leedy’s family, started in her honor.

“She was a very successful young woman in her 33 years,” Jeff Heck said, pausing to hug visitors as they arrived. “Under it all, she always struggled with darkness. One of those moments got her.

Leedy grew up in Lexington and graduated from high school there in 2003. She struggled with depression and anxiety throughout her life, and even tried to end it all at the ages of 15 and 22. But life prevailed and Leedy thrived, eventually rising to upper level and operations management of a billing, collection and insurance utilization company.

“She wasn’t somebody that you would look at and think there were mental-health issues there,” Heck said. “What you don’t see is just as important as what you do see.”

She lost her battle to depression and anxiety in February at age 33. Knowing that Leedy always wanted to help young women who shared her struggles, her family founded 33 Forever to “positively impact the lives of all those affected by depression, anxiety and their related disorders, including suicidal thoughts,” according to the organization’s website:

In a short period of time, the organization has garnered a lot of attention. Thousands of people follow the 33 Forever social media pages, and hundreds interact with the encouraging posts on the accounts each week.

“If they get encouragement from what we post, then we hope we can save a life with what we’re doing,” Heck said.

He hopes those who follow the social media accounts will share the uplifting messages so that others will see that there is always hope in tomorrow.