Padalecki told People he was inspired to get behind the cause, surprisingly, by fellow CW actor, Stephen Amell, who “did a few fundraisers through F*** Cancer, and he approached me and told me that it’s remarkable how supportive the fans are and how much money and awareness they’re able to raise for these great causes. A month or so after we started talking about it, I received a phone call on New Year’s Day and I learned that my friend of 10 years had lost his battle with depression.”
Padalecki said he realized that he was not alone in losing a friend. “There are so many people out there who have experienced the same thing. I have friends and a life and people I work with and I get a lot of love and support — this campaign is more about those who don’t have as much of a support system as I do.”
Padalecki’s organization is raising money and awareness through a T-shirt campaign with the slogan, “Always Keep Fighting,” on the front along with Padalecki’s face. The initial goal was to sell 1,000 shirts and the cause has already exceeded its goal, according to People.
Padalecki also said that he relates to the fight people with depression and mental illness face, because Supernatural also deals with a lot of these issues, “of somebody feeling like they’re being beaten down and feeling like they need to fight through it.”
“We do see Dean (Jensen Ackles) struggling with something that is seemingly larger than himself,” Padalecki said of the show’s current story line. And we’re going to see that struggle continue this season as the characters rally with him to get rid of the Mark of Cain.
“People who are dealing with depression or addiction or suicidal thoughts or mental illness… they’re strong,” Padalecki said. “You’re strong because you’ve been in this fight and you wake up thinking you’re going to beat it again today.”
You can read the entire interview with Padalecki over on People. To contribute to the Always Keep Fighting campaign and find out more information, go to the organization’s website.