Speaking up

Gus Kenworthy sells video messages for COVID-19 relief, reveals recent struggles

 

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Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy has returned to Instagram after a six-week absence to reveal that – like so many of us during the COVID-19 outbreak – he’s been going through some challenging times.

Previously a regular user of social media, Kenworthy, 28, has been quiet since early March. A lengthy posting yesterday revealed the reasons why.

“I know I’ve been MIA for the past month and a half but tbh this whole thing has been really hard on me,” he began.

“I know has been a struggle for most everyone. One thing I’ve learned is that just because we’re in isolation it does NOT mean that we’re alone. We really are in this together! If you’re struggling w/ depression and you’ve been feeling down and worthless know that I have been too,” he says.

“In school, in sports and in life I’ve always hated asking for help because I’ve wanted to seem strong, brave, tough, self-assured, etc but I’ve realized that sometimes you just need help and when you do you need to ask for it. It’s literally what friends are for.

“Swallow your pride and text a friend saying ‘I’m feeling really down, can you talk?’ It will help,” Kenworthy said.

“I’m thankful for my friends and all of you for being my support system; I’m thankful for the people who have used this time to create fun, funny content that has made me laugh and offered levity amidst the darkness; I’m thankful for my health and, most especially, I’m thankful for my family.”

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Kenworthy then went on to say that his own family has been affected by some significant health issues.

“We had some serious scares this past month and it’s put into perspective, more than ever before, the importance of family. My 9-month-old nephew, Bodhi, had a bad cough/ fever and started having trouble breathing. He ended up being flight for life’d to Denver Children’s Hospital to be put on a respirator and spent a week in the ICU.

“Shortly after he returned home my 4-year-old niece, Bobbie, fell ill and had to be rushed to the same hospital to undergo two emergency surgeries. They’re both finally home again and recovering!”

Kenworthy goes on to say these recent experiences, along with the ongoing pandemic, have prompted him to do more to help our frontline workers.

“I’m incredibly thankful and forever grateful to our healthcare workers on the front line of this pandemic. I can’t show my gratitude enough but, in an effort to help out, I’ve decided to join Cameo to make personalized videos for anybody who wants one w/ 100% of my proceeds going to #FirstRespondersFirst to raise money for the doctors & nurses risking their lives to save others. If you wanna buy a video there’s a link in my bio and I’ll match whatever we raise up to $10,000!

“Thank you all for staying home to help flatten the curve and also for reading my unsolicited novel of a caption. Let’s #BeatTheVirus”

Some of Kenworthy's video messages on Cameo
Some of Kenworthy’s video messages on Cameo (Photo: Cameo screenshot)

Cameo is a platform where celebrities and influencers record a personalized video message for fans for a fee. Kenworthy is selling his messages for $150 each, with everything he raises going to healthcare workers. You can check out some of his videos on his Cameo page.

Kenworthy’s post prompted thousands of comments, with the vast majority appreciating his message and showing support.

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However, one user posted a comment of disapproval that prompted a response from Kenworthy.

“Telling depressed people to swallow their pride ain’t it. Making already depressed people feel like it’s their fault ain’t it. Sad,” said one of his followers.

Kenworthy responded, “If that’s really what you got out of my caption then you completely missed the mark. As someone who’s been suffering from depression right now I encouraged anybody else struggling with the same thing to reach out to a friend and ask for help.

“In no way did I imply that anybody’s depression is their fault, all I was trying to do was leave a gentle reminder that we’re not alone in this,” Kenworthy continued. “It’s a scary time and we could all probably use some love and support but other people may not know our struggles and so it’s important to ask for help when it’s needed. Anyway, I wish you well, bud. Stay home, stay healthy and maybe stay off my page if you’re going to come for me on a post where I’m opening up about struggling mentally in the hopes of helping others. ❤️”

Kenworthy posted from Los Angeles, where he is presumably in lockdown. His photo showed him with his beloved dog, Birdie, who he rescued from a South Korean dog meat farm during the 2018 Olympics.