John Tessitore is the founder of The JCK Foundation, a non-profit devoted to ending the stigma of mental health.
Tessitore was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) when he was 13. He was lucky to have his brother's best friend, John Kelly (for whom the foundation is named) as a mentor. Kelly also suffered from OCD and took a young Tessitore under his wing. In 2011, Kelly was driven to suicide by his OCD and depression after a long, brave battle – he was only 24. Tessitore is determined to make sure that Kelly is remembered for the levity he provided during their shared journey. Kelly was a hero to Tessitore, always providing an outlet for his thoughts and often hiding his own level of pain to protect Tessitore.
“I live my life to honor John Kelly." The work speaks for itself – Tessitore and the JCK Foundation are committed to normalizing mental illness through stories of those suffering. Their combined work has had a major impact on college campuses in the last six years. In the first season of Doming Out, John and his guests dive into the Foundation's humble beginnings, their infamous Legends Softball Tournament, John’s College Speaking Tour, JCK’s funded research grant at Brooklyn College, and their health clinics in Uganda.
John’s a firm believer in the power of exposure – “if we save one life, it will have been worth it.” His energy, passion and empathy made Doming Out a reality. It’s not easy for those affected by mental health to entrust their story to someone else.
”Not only are you fighting for yourself, but you are fighting for everyone else suffering from mental illness, we are a team.”