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Letter: Manhasset Middle School Honored for Documentary Breaking The Silence

A lot has happened in the past year regarding NeilsWheelsNY and Manhasset. I want to update the Manhasset Community and to say thanks to a lot of people.

For those who don’t know Neil Barber, he graduated from Manhasset High School in 1992. He was an outstanding athlete in both lacrosse and track. He became mentally ill and on a chance meeting with Coach Rule at a lacrosse reunion, the Manhasset Plan, created by Bob Rule, started in the fall of 2009. Now Manhasset has been chosen for 25 percent of the focus of a documentary on mental illness and, in particular, Breaking The Silence, on mental problems or any problem.

The Manhasset Plan created a way to raise food for hungry families and for homeless families here on L.I. One in four families have hunger issues on Long Island. Neil’s Wheels NY has a website that showcases the Manhasset Plan and who we are and what we have done to help others.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) saw what Manhasset was doing and knowing that many hungry families also suffer from mental illness, asked if we wanted to be featured in a film about helping de-stigmatize mental illness, and showing how the students at Manhasset Middle School were so open to talking about mental health. They were very impressed that Neil Barber was not forgotten. Neil has been in Pilgrim State Mental Hospital for over 12 years, and it is documented that Neil feels like his life now has a purpose, because of what Manhasset helped us do to start NWNY.

Last January I showed over 600 students at Manhasset the trailer to the film that features Neil and myself, Bob Rule, Jasmine Plaza, and five or six students talking about Neil and his illness in their health class with their teacher, Jasmine Plaza. The documentary is now completed and will go nationwide to schools as a teaching tool in their health courses.

NAMI also asked me to be a captain to the Neil’s Wheels NY team at the annual Walk-a-Thon to raise money for them. The Walk is on Saturday, May 5 and I hope Manhasset will help me in my efforts to help them. I will have a link to NAMI on our website at and you can walk and or you can donate to this very worthy cause. Without Manhasset’s help, Neil remains someone who is forgotten, and with your help he feels like his life is not in vain. NAMI is a huge extension of what Manhasset did for my family. Thanks Manhasset

Greg Barber
Manhasset High School Class of 1964