Heartland student-athlete advocates for mental health through clothing line

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 9:53 PM CDT
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TWIN CITIES (25 News Now) - A local student-athlete is doing more than focusing on classes and softball. She’s advocating for mental health with her own company.

As a Heartland Community College student-athlete preparing for graduation, Mackenzie Nelson seems to have it all figured out. But it wasn’t always that simple.

“There was a time in my life where I wasn’t comfortable talking about it at all and my heart breaks for the younger version of myself, who was too afraid to speak up and ask for help,” said Nelson.

The 20-year-old had thoughts of taking her own life. As she battled with anxiety and depression, Nelson began making headbands and facemasks in 2020 to cope.

“A lot of people were really touched by my story,” said Nelson.

In 2021, that turned into a clothing business called ‘Stay Another Day’ or ‘SAD’. Nelson says a portion of her proceeds go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“Being a student athlete, the pressures we put on ourselves and everything is like a lot,” said Nelson.

The Normal Community High School graduate wants to be the reason people talk about their mental health struggles and know they are not alone.

“It’s okay to be sad and that asking for help is totally okay, it’s totally normal,” said Nelson.

Behind her is four employees, including her dad.

“She basically told me I was going to work for her someday and here we are,” said Chris Nelson, Mackenzie Nelson’s father.

The company has been in an office-space for the past few months. Chris Nelson says they have already made a difference.

“Just seeing the impact that she had on other people and how that made her feel, it was great,” said Chris Nelson.

This is just the beginning for Nelson. She plans to take this on full-time in the spring.

“Eventually we want to have a storefront, that’s my goal,” Nelson continued, “This is like what I want to do with my life is spread this message.”

In the years to come, Nelson will be working to make sure everyone chooses to stay another day.