GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) — Every once in a while, we like to check in with former Everyday Heroes to see what they’re up to now. Matt McDonell started a nonprofit organization last year called Next 18. He combines golf and mental health techniques to help military veterans and first responders. Since that first camp, things have really taken off.
We first met McDonell last year at Fire Ridge Golf Course in Grafton. He was just getting started with Next 18, which he founded. It was his first camp.
“I live by a lot of values that I was taught in the military. Honor, integrity. I say I’m going to do something, I do it,” McDonell told us at the time.
It set out to help military veterans and first responders dealing with mental health issues and PTSD. Now, that’s exactly what he’s doing,
“I think at 38 I’ve really found my purpose in life,” McDonell said.
Next 18 has hosted six camps in the past year, combining the game of golf with tools to manage mental health challenges.
“Mindfulness, yoga, meditation, breath work,” McDonell said.
Next 18 boasts 60 alumni so far — from the military, the Milwaukee Fire Department and more.
“Wauwatosa, Waukesha PD, Mequon Fire, National Guard is also getting some participants involved,” McDonnell said, naming a few.
His experience dealing with PTSD after his military service gave him inspiration.
“I had no resources. I had no one to talk to,” he said. “I did what a lot of men do when they’re going through a negative situation, we just smooth it out.”
Having that experience made him want to give others the tools he didn’t have, and McDonell said the response has been inspiring.
Alumni have called him “invaluable” and “invaluable.”
The next 18 is growing as well. Eight camps are planned for next year.
“When I get messages now, without prompting from alumni, it really fills my cup,” McDonell said.
McDonell also said Next 18 is checking in with alumni every two months to gauge the impact the camps are having on participants. McDonell is working on getting his masters in social work now.
For more information on Next 18, just visit www.Next18.org.
And if you’d like to nominate an Everyday Hero, send Natalie a message at NShepherd@cbs58.com