WATCH | Extended interview with man kayaking Ohio River for mental health awareness

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RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) — UPDATE 8/16/19 @ 2:29 p.m.
A man from Cincinnati is kayaking down the Ohio River to raise awareness for mental health. WSAZ caught up with him as he passed through Huntington.

Joseph Solomon is kayaking down the Ohio River to raise awareness for mental health.

Joseph Solomon started his journey on Aug. 1 in Pittsburgh. He says he will end the almost 1,000 mile venture in Cairo, Illinois by late September.

So far, Solomon has kayaked 300 miles. He has a little more than 680 miles to go in his journey.

Along the way, he is stopping at strangers' boats and visiting bed and breakfasts to discuss mental health with anyone he meets.

"It feels really good," Solomon told WSAZ Friday. "I've had a couple cry sessions with several people on the river where we just sat there and talked about mental health and we sat there and cried for a while. I'm doing this because I want to make a difference out there and help people that do have mental health conditions know that they're not alone."

He described meeting one woman on a boat whose son struggles with mental health issues and drug addiction, "She felt as if God had sent me there to talk to her that morning."

It's also personal for Solomon, who admits he battles a mental health condition.
 
"In 2012 I had a near death experience, and was in a Catatonic state for a few weeks.  Kayaking helped me recover in so many ways and now I want to help others by raising awareness for Mental Illness and getting donations to groups that help with this."


Solomon really wants to focus on helping children with mental illness and fight the stigmas they face. The money he raises will go towards the Santa Maria Youth Development Program.

ORIGINAL STORY 8/11/19
A man from Cincinnati is kayaking down the Ohio River to raise awareness for mental health.
 
Joseph Solomon started his journey on Aug. 1 in Pittsburgh. He says he will end the almost 1,000 mile venture in Cairo, Illinois by late September.
 
Sunday, Solomon stopped in Ravenswood to rest and talk to people in town about what he's doing, and the need for more mental health help.
 
"The problem is, a lot of people don't have a community of people around them to show them love so they can overcome the condition that they have."
 
It's also personal for Solomon, who admits he battles a mental health condition.
 
"In 2012 I had a near death experience, and was in a Catatonic state for a few weeks. Kayaking helped me recover in so many ways and now I want to help others by raising awareness for Mental Illness and getting donations to groups that help with this."


Solomon really wants to focus on helping children with mental illness and fight the stigmas they face. The money he raises will go towards the Santa Maria Youth Development Program.

Solomon started preparing for the mission three years ago, well before the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio which have sparked discussions about mental health.

“A lot of people think that someone with a mental health disorder is crazy or they're gonna shoot up a bar full of people, and that's not the truth. The truth is you can live a normal life with a mental health condition.”

Solomon will be floating down the river through our area for the next several days and plans to stop to rest in Huntington later this week.

To learn more about Joseph's journey, you can find him on Facebook at Kayaking 4 a Cause.