The March 11 winter cornhole tournament at the Buffalo VFD produced $800.
Code Grey is not a person. It is many persons. It is a program which targets the mental health of first responders. The name, Code Grey, is borrowed from a hospital code that is used to alert the medical staff of a serious incident that requires immediate assistance. The program is needed because first responder suicides greatly outnumber line-of-duty deaths.
Code Grey is offered by Aspire to Inspire Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Teays Valley, and focuses on mental health, PTSD recovery, and suicide prevention for first responders. The program was started by mental health professional Kari Mika-Lude and her husband Allen Lude, who is a first responder with Kanawha County EMS.
On Saturday, March 11, Code Grey received a financial boost thanks to Mountain Arts Democracy, a Charleston-based club for artists, musicians, and supporters of the arts. The organization hosted a winter cornhole tournament at the Buffalo Volunteer Fire Department, which raised $800 for Code Grey. 304 Hole Hunters provided the scoring equipment for the event, and Country Roads Cornhole of Hurricane provided cornhole boards as well as raffle prizes.
Mountain Arts Democracy’s motto is “Family, arts, community,” with a focus on mental health awareness. Shawn Martin, club president and safety officer for the Buffalo Fire Department, reached out to Allen Lude and Kari Mika-Lude and asked if his organization could do a fundraiser for Code Grey. Because of the chilly winter weather, the event would have to be held indoors, and since the event focused on first responder wellness, the fire station was an appropriate location.
“We saw a need to break the stigma for mental health for first responders,” said Allen. “First responders do not have time to recover from one call to the next, so a lot of the emotions have to be pushed to the side, which creates numbness.”
The cornhole tournament for Code Grey is not the only mental health related event hosted by Mountain Artist Democracy. This will be the third year that the organization will be hosting MadFest, a music festival which raises awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. The festival will be held in July at Ridenour Park in Nitro.