The Tyler Joseph "TJ" Holder Fund

The Charitable Foundation is pleased to welcome the “TJ” Holder Fund to its growing family of funds. The fund was established by Wendell Holder in honor of his son Tyler Joseph “TJ” Holder, who passed away unexpectedly last year on April 26, 2016 at the tender age of 20. The Holder family has designated the fund to be used to benefit nonprofit organizations that focus on mental and behavioral health as well as addiction issues. They hope to find alternatives to what they view as a broken behavioral health system. It is this broken system which they feel directly contributed to TJ’s premature death.  

TJ Holder was an enormously talented, complex individual. A skilled writer and composer, he amazed others with his depth of understanding, his demonstrated compassion and kindness, his creativity, sense of humor, and a wisdom beyond his years. 

According to his family TJ began to manifest mental health issues around the age of 9 when he was diagnosed with frontal lobe seizures and bipolar disorder.  “We spent many years and thousands of dollars navigating an inadequate health care system made up of well-meaning agencies and entities that should be working in tandem to help children like TJ, but who unfortunately lack communication much to the detriment of the patients entrusted to them,” says Mr. Holder. 

As a youth TJ’s situation worsened, when he and a group of junior high friends were arrested for possession of marijuana, the only substance that appeared to have a calming effect on his overactive brain. At this point the criminal justice system took over. Because of the ineffectiveness of the current behavioral health system, the prison system is in actuality the largest provider of mental healthcare needs in the country. 

In the last few months of TJ’s life, the family was faced with the desperate choice between allowing him to continue on a dangerous path or calling the police for his own protection. The Holder family feels that if there had been an alternative like a mental health crisis line or a psychiatric emergency center things could have been different. TJ was kept in 23-hour a day isolation receiving little or no mental health treatment for six months. On the day of his release he was prescribed a handful of powerful psychotropic drugs known as benzodiazepines by the prison’s medical staff. Three days later he was dead. 

Wendell Holder has established the TJ Holder Fund with an initial contribution and has named the Charitable Foundation a beneficiary in his plans for future giving. The Holder family’s main wish is that vulnerable youth be identified before they enter the criminal justice system. As Mr. Holder explains, “we need to find solutions to the life threatening addictions that plague them, they frequently become addicted to the very drugs that have been prescribed to them since a young age. They are not criminals.” 

Donate Online or contact Anna Aleman at (915) 218-2642