Mental illness had never touched my family until the summer of 2014, when we discovered my brother Ryan (pictured) was sick. Ryan was the life of the party—wonderful sense of humor, tons of friends. He worked for the town of Cornelius in their Parks and Recreation Department. Everyone who knew him loved him. No one would ever have guessed he was silently struggling with depression and anxiety.

Fast forward to June of 2014: it was no longer a secret that he was struggling and needed help. My family and I did everything in our power to get him the help he needed. His lack of health insurance due to not being able to work was our downfall. One of the many things I am hoping we as a nation can change is how our healthcare system treats people with mental illness. If someone is mentally ill, they are usually incapable of working—that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be treated and helped.

My amazing brother passed away in October of 2014. Since then my family and I have participated in the Walk for Hope—our team name is Hope Flies. There’s hope that all the money raised will help someone else’s brother, mother, father, sister and friend get the help they deserve to have. Thank you for all you guys are doing and all the support you give to my family. God bless.

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