We invite you to be a part of the journey of remembrance and celebration as we continue to honor the remarkable life of Darren Matteoni. His guiding light will forever shine bright and we want to keep his legacy alive!
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Join us in making a positive impact in the lives of others and ensuring that Darren's legacy continues to bring hope and support to those facing challenges in their lives.
Dry Society Social Club
"After 25 years of struggling with mental health issues and addiction, our precious son and brother, Darren Robert Matteoni, lost his valiant battle to those dreaded diseases – primarily mental health. Oh, how he tried to overcome it; in the end the demons were just too much for him to handle any longer.
Darren was the best son, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, grandson, nephew and cousin. Everyone who came in contact with him was immediately drawn to his huge heart, smile and the best laugh ever. He was a big brother (well older – Daniel was always bigger and taller) to Daniel, and then 10 years later his sister, Caitlin, came along. Oh how he treasured her! As their lives progressed, being their big brother remained his favorite title. The kids all had a fabulous life growing up in Sparks, surrounded by tons of friends and relatives. Our home was filled with joy, laughter and occasional chaos, just the way we liked it. As the years went by, he loved his brother-in-law, Tim and being Uncle “DeDa” to Griffin, Fynley, Logan and Baylee.
One of his first great accomplishments was being voted the first Student Body President at Jerry Whitehead Elementary School. To be honest, I don’t know if they ever had another election after that. During high school at Reed, he was very involved with the Ski Team, but his main passion was running and working out. He could run further and faster than most of his friends, so he had to find a good partner who he could train with. He found a running partner, a best friend, and a mentor in Steve Pitts. Steve went on to become one of Darren’s closest friends and I will never be able to thank Steve enough for his kindness and compassion with Darren these past 30 years.
Upon completion of high school, there was nothing more than Darren wanted than to go in to the U.S. Navy and train to be a Navy Seal. Due to a very small leg injury, the Navy medically rejected him and he was never able to see that dream come to fruition. With the loss of the dream, came Darren’s first “ break”. Since 1996 he has been struggling with mental illness. He was in and out of various programs and institutions. The very best and the most productive one was when he was a client with the state at NNAMHS (Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Hospital). During those years he was a member of the P.A.C.T. Program (Program of Assertive Community Training), a service-delivery model that provides comprehensive, locally based treatment to people with serious and persistent mental illnesses. This program was a Godsend in his life and he flourished while participating with some of the best, most compassionate people on the planet. He was such a success with them, that they actually held a beautiful luncheon in his honor and sent him on his way, because he was so healthy and self-sufficient.
I won’t go into all the other episodes that transpired throughout the past 25 years, but I will let you know that Darren has been great and med-compliant for the past 10 years. In fact, he was doing so great, that he went back to school at TMCC and earned his certification as a licensed Massage Therapist. This was the accomplishment he was most proud of and believe me his family loved it as well – we were the recipients of lots and lots of free massages. Doesn’t get much better than that!
And then on January 31st, 2022 something went terribly wrong. He called me that evening (as he did everyday) and I could tell in his voice that things weren’t right. I’ll never know exactly what happened, but I do know that I spent almost the entire month of February trying to right the wrong. From ER’s, to hospitals, to so-called behavioral health hospitals, to jail, back to the ER and then out to the streets. And then they found his body, alone and cold on February 22, 2022.
No one should have to endure what our family has gone through this past month. I will make sure that his death was not in vain. I will fight for change to the mental health system for you, my love. It failed you miserably. There are too many individuals and families that are traveling this path and it just should never end like it did for Darren.
And so the moral of this story is “Be Kind”. You have no idea who that man or woman are out on the streets. You may think they are crazy and unkempt, but always know they are somebody’s mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin. Always remember that “There but for the Grace of God, go you or me”. At one time that person you see now, was not the person you see today. And if you know of someone with a mental illness, it could be as simple as slight depression, make sure you help them get help. This crap is real and it is no respecter of persons…… We don’t get to choose it – it chooses us. Let’s drop this Mental Health Stigma B.S. We are all God’s creatures, and we need to all be out there supporting one another.
You were my firstborn Darren and I was blessed to be your mother and I am still blessed to be Daniel and Caitlin’s mom. We will miss your huge smile, your loving heart, and your infectious laughter, but we will carry on and make sure your death counts for something bigger than ourselves. We will continue to tell your story and change the conversation around the stigma of mental health. You taught us all something Darren – you were a special soul. You were kind, generous of heart and had a laugh that could light up a room. You fought hard for many years with an incredible amount of stamina and bravery. There is a huge hole in my heart and I don’t want to believe or accept that you are gone. I will grieve for you tremendously, but I will also fight for you with all I’ve got.
Rest well Darren Robert Matteoni! You’ve earned it. We love you so very much!"
- Pam Matteoni