Shedding a Light: Off the Grid helps raise funds for Matthew’s Way

Published 3:36 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Greeneville’s Kimber Russell’s mission is to shed a light on a medical condition that impacts families every day around the world.

Russell started the non-profit Matthew’s Way Mental Health Awareness in remembrance of her son who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia before passing away at the age of 27.

Through Matthew’s Way, Russell hopes to bring awareness to mental health issues and erase the stigmas that are often associated with mental illness.

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“There are not many resources and trying to get help was hard,” said Russell about the challenges of finding assistance for individuals with mental illness.

Russell said that at first, she wanted to keep quiet about her son’s ailment but eventually decided to open up about it in hopes of motivating others to do the same.

“I spoke out, and people opened up about their own battles with mental illness,” said Russell. “It took away the shame that people sometimes have when dealing with mental health issues.”

Along with its goal of raising awareness of mental health and its importance, Matthew’s Way does many charitable things such as partnering with local restaurants to help provide homeless with warm meals, donating therapy supplies and personal items to the patients at Woodridge Hospital in Johnson City, and buying and donating books on mental health to schools.

Monday, Off the Grid Adventures at Fish Springs Marina in Hampton held a fundraiser for Matthew’s Way. For two hours, all the money raised from paddleboard, kayak and canoe rentals went to the non-profit. In the first hour of the fundraiser, more than 40 people had taken to the water during the event.

“Kimber is from the lake community, and we just love her,” said Off the Grid co-owner Tony Weaver. “It is just so sad that she lost her son. This is something that is very dear to my heart, and we just want to give back.”

Tyler Ricker, a representative with Modern Woodman out of Greeneville, was on hand Monday. Modern Woodmen matched any proceeds raise up to $500, and at the end of the fundraiser, Off the Grid and Modern Woodmen had raised over $1,0000 for Matthew’s Way.

“We are just really proud to be able to support such an important cause and to help get rid of the stigma that surrounds mental health,” said Ricker.

Monday was the third year that Off the Grid has held a fundraiser for Matthew’s Way. Around $600 was raised during the first year of the event. Weaver, who co-owns Off the Grid with Adam Buckles,  said that the company hopes to do a week-long fundraiser next year that may include a fishing tournament and paddleboard race, and other activities.

Since it’s beginning eight year’s ago, Off the Grid has hosted fundraisers for many local organizations including area high school athletic teams such as Cloudland High School basketball and Hampton High School football.

“It’s just wonderful to have local business leaders who give back,” said Russell. “Carter County is very fortunate.”