WINCHESTER, Va. - A 20-year-old Winchester college student has gone above and beyond to help the "I'm Just Me" movement, which is a nonprofit organization that serves as a community for teens and adults to embrace diversity, self-pride and value themselves as an individual.
"What we're doing, a lot of people are looking at it like we changed their lives, but really it's them changing ours," said Zach Harrell, one of the Board of Directors for the "I'm Just Me" movement.
It all started when Zach was a sophomore at Millbrook High School and found out about his friend, Rze, having a speech impediment and how that severely impacted him.
"Whether we all want to come out about it or not, we all have our difficulties on the inside -- things we struggle with. It was kind of inspiring to see someone else be so self-disclosing about that," Harrell said.
Zach is now a sophomore and basketball player at Roanoke College, and, even with his busy schedule as a student-athlete, he still stays involved with the movement.
He got his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, commonly known as Pike, involved by making it part of Philanthropy Week, where he and his brothers raise money and awareness.
Zach's fraternity helped raise funds for making "I'm Just Me Because" an official October national holiday as well as for programs in the community.
"We're offering mentorship both through public schools and through police communities," Harrell said. "For instance, we have just established an eight week program, so if juveniles get in trouble with the criminal justice system, rather than going to jail, they can come and do our eight week program, so we can set them in a new light."
After three years of serving on the Board of Directors for the movement, Zach hopes to continue to spread the message wherever he goes.
"It's just amazing to see that you can take something so small and [to see] how far we've come in three to four years is just inspiring. What really motivates me is the fact that there is no limit to what we can do. We've branched out with Disney, [and] we're starting to get national grants now. We're a national holiday," said Harrell.
If interested in donating to the cause or learning more about it, visit the organization's website.