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SANTA CLARA — Solomon Thomas tragically lost his sister to suicide four months ago, and the 49ers defensive lineman be honoring her on June 2 by walking with family and friends in a Dallas fundraiser.
Thomas opened up about his sister’s death Tuesday in an emotional post to raise donations for The Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk, which benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Ella Thomas was 24 when she died on Jan. 23 in their hometown of Coppell, Texas.
Thomas, the 49ers’ top draft pick last year out of Stanford and No. 3 overall selection, wrote :
“On June 2nd, I will be walking to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I lost one of the most important people in my world to suicide earlier this year. I will be walking for her and for everyone who suffers from the pain she felt.
“Ella was my sister. Ella was my best friend. She loved harder than she could breathe. She filled a room with such a strong presence that it would light up the room. She made my life go.
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“Having Ella as my sister was the greatest gift this life has given me. She taught me to be myself, to make everyone feel loved, to appreciate everything in front of me, and so much more. She was so perceptive and so compassionate. I will live every day for my amazing sister.
“I walk not only because of what happened to Ella and our family; I walk because I want to help others. I want others to have better information and resources.
“It’s time to talk about mental health. It’s time to acknowledge that everyone is going through something that we don’t know about and might not understand. It’s time to have empathy for those things we don’t understand. The funds raised at this walk will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Net proceeds will help those affected by suicide and mental health conditions by supporting research, advocacy, survivor resources, education and awareness programs.
“Be meaningful in every conversation, seek to show others you care. You never know what you could say that might save someone’s life. I want to make this a better world. Please help me in support of those who suffer.”
Thomas already had reached his $1,000 goal within hours of Tuesday’s post. He’s been participating in the 49ers offseason program since April, and he lined up as the first-string defense’s edge rusher in Tuesday’s team drills.
On June 2 family and friends of mine will be walking in The Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk in Dallas to honor my sister Ella. Please help us raise $1000 to support the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.
— Solomon Thomas (@SollyThomas90) May 22, 2018
Here is my link to honor my beautiful sister Ella. https://t.co/z8jX5Dw55E
— Solomon Thomas (@SollyThomas90) May 22, 2018
When Thomas’ mother, Martha, appealed Monday for $1,000 in donation as part of Saturday’s fundraiser, 49ers general manager John Lynch tweeted the organization’s support and pledged $5,000 in Ella Thomas’ honor.
Martha, Chris and Solomon, The Niners would like to start out the donations with $5,000 in honor of Ella. https://t.co/5yJtfZT9ub
— John Lynch (@JohnLynch49ers) May 22, 2018
Martha Thomas, on her fundraising page, shared cherished memories of her daughter and her understandable grief.
Martha Thomas wrote:
“I am joining the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk because on January 23 my world was rocked. Our daughter, Ella, died by suicide that morning. I still don’t understand.
“Ella was about love. She exuded love to everyone around her. She was strong and tough, unbelievably hilarious, honest to her core, gifted with people, and stunningly gorgeous. She was the kind of woman who made every person feel like the most important person to her. She was a gift to all of us who knew and loved her, and there are so many of us.
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“I’m fundraising to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Net proceeds will help those affected by suicide and mental health conditions by supporting research, advocacy, survivor resources, education, and awareness programs.
“I walk not only because of what has happened to Ella and our family; I walk because I want to help others, I want others to have better information and resources, I want to make this a better world. Please help me in support of those who suffer.”