OpenMindGymm works to normalize mental health conversations and effectuate change

Founder of OpenMindGymm Ben Ruvo runs podcasts to support his cause in the wake of COVID-19

By Chrissy Segrest

Elm Staff Writer

Ben Ruvo is a sophomore on the Washington College baseball team and a long-term sufferer of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. He combined his love of sports and his condition to create OpenMindGymm.

OpenMindGymm is an athlete mental health advocacy group that focuses on normalizing the conversation surrounding athlete mental health.  People falsely believe that athletes cannot suffer from mental illnesses.

Ruvo, the founder, is joined by three others in running operations: Holly Ruvo, Ben Chelnitsky, and Jake Brodsky.

Holly Ruvo is one of Ben Ruvo triplet siblings, along with Max Ruvo who is also a member of the WC baseball team. Holly Ruvo attends WC as well and is the head of OpenMindGymm’s marketing team. She runs the organization’s social media accounts and their website.

Chelnitsky, a student at Rutgers University- New Brunswick in New Jersey, is their operations manager, and he helps to oversee operations and manage their finances.  He also helps to raise awareness of their organization and their goals. 

Finally, Brodsky is part of the ambassador’s team and is a finance major at Clemson University in South Carolina.

One of the standout features of OpenMindGymm is interviews with athletes who want to tell their story about mental illness. Some of them feature WC students and alumni, such as junior rower Skyler Hancock, current athletic trainer and former WC field hockey player Clare Ingersoll, women’s soccer alumna and a senior Meg Klink, and women’s tennis player junior Riley Katzman.

They also tell the stories of athletes outside of WC such as Division I golfer at Towson University, Derek Gold, and University of Denver gymnast Alexis Vasquez.

“The one thing I would tell people at WC about the cause is that we are an organization that effectuates change. We do it because we care so much about the cause,” said Ben Ruvo.  “Everyone who works for us gives it their all and realizes that this is something bigger than ourselves. I am really humbled for the experience and it has been everything I could have imagined and more.”

Ben Ruvo is also a co-host of a podcast called “The Line-Up,” which interviews athletes and talks about their mental health journeys. It functions in collaboration with OpenMindGymm and the Made of Millions Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the stigma of mental illness. There have been five episodes so far, which can all be found on their website.

“One of our long-term goals is to get some of our staff mental health certified through Lead Academy” Ruvo said.

Currently, the only source of revenue is apparel bought on their website. They donate a portion of their funds to a multitude of mental health organizations, such as SameHere Global, the Made of Millions foundation, and the OCD Gamechangers. 

“Ultimately, our goal as an organization is to effectuate change in the sports communities across the nation. If we can do that, we’ve won,” Ben Ruvo said.

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