COLORADO SPRINGS — Perri and Bruce Parkman remember their 17-year-old son as a respectful, goofy, and kind-hearted young adult.
Mac Parkman was entering his senior year at Colorado Springs Christian School when his life was taken too soon.
It's a parents worst nightmare.
Parkman died by suicide in September 2020.
"I never thought anything like this would happen to our family," said Perri Parkman, Mac's mom.
Mac was a natural athlete.
He played football, wrestled, and had a strong passion for snowboarding.
All the sports he enjoyed were considered to be contact sports.
In a matter of years, Parkman suffered three concussions, two in wrestling and one in football.
Parkman's mother said he was cleared from the concussions each time, so they didn't worry.
Underneath the helmet, pads, and jersey, Mac was suffering.
His mental sickness took over, his family believes as a result of the brain trauma.
"A bone heals. You see a bone healing. You don't see a broken bone healing," said Perri Parkman.
According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, concussions can cause major trauma to the brain, resulting in problems with mental health.
Multiple hits to the head can cause a brain disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
To help understand more about their son's brain injuries, the Parkman's donated Mac's brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for brain trauma research.
The only way to diagnose CTE is after a person dies.
"It doesn't mean CTE is causing suicide, but when you dig deeper there are small areas in the brain-stem that are critical for mental health functioning," said Dr. Chris Nowinski, PhD.
Concussion Legacy Foundation urges parents to wait until their child is at least 14-years-old before they participate in contact sports.
"I know way too many young people who have died in their teens and twenties that show signs of brain damage from playing sports as a child. That's something that we should all pause about," said Dr. Nowinski.
As Mac's legacy lives on, Mac's parents created the Mac Parkman Foundation which serves as a resource for athletes, coaches, and parents who may be affected by sports related concussions.
"If we can reach one kid, save one kid, it will be enough," said Perri Parkman.