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Shine A Ligh7 was founded in 2016 by Paul Martin and Todd Luoma who met decades earlier when Todd was fitting Paul with his first pair of Mission Hockey skates. Paul was playing high school hockey at the time for the Elk River Elks.

Over the years, Shine A Ligh7 has organized events and programs to raise funds and partner with local agencies, musicians, and athletes to shine a spotlight on the importance of youth mental health and find connection through sharing stories.

Following Paul’s retirement from the NHL and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Paul and Todd recruited a team of non-profit professionals to provide further structure and framework for Shine A Ligh7. The result of their work is an inspired non-profit organization with a community of people ready to share their story and let their soul shine.

Shine A Ligh7 aims to be a champion for youth mental health education and awareness throughout Minnesota.

3 Questions with Paul Martin

Where did the name Shine A Ligh7 come from?

I love music and one of my favorite songs is by the Rolling Stones and it includes the phrase, “May the good lord shine light on you, and make every song you sing your favorite tune” and that stuck with me for some reason.  We swapped the “t” for “7” because that was my hockey number in the NHL. I quickly realized in retirement that your number is just another number and that mental health doesn’t take a day off…it’s present 7 days a week!

How has your experience as a professional hockey player impacted your desire to bring awareness to and reduce the stigma of mental health?

I often struggled away from the rink with bouts of depression, loneliness, and anxiety – which I never recognized at the time because I was so good at hiding it, burying it, and keeping my emotions in check.

Over time, injuries took a toll on me and the demands on my body wore me out physically and mentally. I missed the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with a broken arm that didn’t heal right and I was devastated; it meant that much to me. Shortly after, my grandpa Howdo passed away and I wasn’t there to say goodbye. I fell into a deep and dark depression and felt lonely and isolated even though I had plenty of friends, family, and teammates I loved and cared about.

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve learned the importance of taking care of my health whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. Knowing what I know now and seeing how I have grown in the last few years, I understand more about my mental health and how to maintain it.

What is happiness to you?

Happiness takes work for me. It is cultivated daily. It comes from inside me. It is an inside out job. Nothing external will make me happy in the long run which I have proven to myself over and over. External things may provide temporary relief, some joy and pleasure, gratification, but it won’t provide me with meaningful, fulfilling, deep-down, soulshine happiness.

Our Squad

Meet the team behind the scenes of Shine A Ligh7! Our squad (board of directors) is comprised of individuals with diverse connections to mental health who are all committed to the mission of being a champion for youth mental health education and awareness throughout Minnesota.