"My vision behind the kickstarter is to bring into the culture a new understanding of people with mental illness"
Ricky was a confident, intelligent and outgoing entrepreneur. Ricky refused to let his diagnosis define him and went on to establish his own multimedia business, YODOG media (his last name backwards!). Within the year, he became a thumbtack pro because of his genuine personality, outstanding services and unparalleled work ethic. However, he was much more than a businessman.
Ricky was fearless. He never judged; all he wanted to do was help. Whether it was providing a meal for the homeless or going on mission trips, Ricky found purpose in helping others. He found joy in the simplest things like going on late night runs to Wal Mart or drinking coffee with his aunt at Starbucks. Ricky was relentless in the pursuit of his dreams, his faith and his dedication for others.
Ricky was open and honest about his struggles with his mental illness. Although by revealing this, many people drew back from him personally and professionally. He decided that things needed to be changed. He wanted people to understand that it was possible to live a meaningful life regardless of any diagnosis. He wanted to help people understand that those struggling are impressive individuals who all share a common thread of creativity that deserves to be shared and enjoyed despite their diagnosis.
In the midst of his creative energy, Ricky battled with bipolar schizoaffective disorder. After facing the stigma that comes with being diagnosed with a mental illness, Ricky set out to break it and change the narrative around mental health in America. He did this by creating open dialogue about his mental health with his family, friends and others to help them understand his reality. He also started a blog as a creative outlet for his thoughts and feelings. He proudly displayed his aunt Claudia’s poetry book titled "Mental Alert," which takes you through her personal story of mental illness and how she struggled to find balance and hope. One of Ricky’s goals was to create a documentary to destigmatize mental illness and to put it in Ricky’s own words, “create a documentary that will show the other side of mental illness, the side that is entirely creative and filled with inspiration.” This dream was never brought to completion. On September 21st, 2017, Ricky died by suicide. This does not have to be the end result for anyone battling with mental health issues. We hope to continue Ricky’s work of advocating and educating others on this invisible illness while shattering the stigma.