SCOTTSDALE, AZ - To his family, Travis Perry "had the world at his feet." The Desert Mountain High School junior was an honor student who enjoyed playing sports, spending time with friends and working on the school's technical theater crew. In September 2015, "it was a complete shock" when the 16-year-old took his own life.
"We tried to see, was there something going on? Was he bullied? Was he involved with drugs or alcohol? And none of that was the case," Melanie Perry told ABC15.
Shortly after her son's death, Perry co-founded For The Love of Travis -- an organization to help raise money for innovative research in diagnosing and treating depression. Travis was "silently suffering," Perry said, and never voiced his struggle to family members.
"I remember a smiling kid and I think about how incredibly brilliant he was," Perry said.
That's how family friend Andi Paus remembers him too. Travis and Paus' children grew up together. After his passing, she was determined to bring some sort of light to what happened.
"I sat my family down at the table and said, let's paint some rocks," Paus told ABC15.
That effort has now evolved into the You Rock Project. Paus helps lead school and community groups in painting rocks with positive messages that are placed near streets or sidewalks for passersby to find.
"Hopefully it makes their day," she said.
Some of the "thousands" of rocks now spread throughout the Valley include notes about Travis, who he was and the organization. Paus said the rocks serve as a vehicle to talk about suicide prevention and suicide awareness.
For the Love of Travis is hosting its second annual dinner gala on Saturday, January 20th, from 5:30 to 11:00 p.m. at the Windgate Ranch Clubhouse.
For tickets and additional information visit the organization's website.