Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Friends of FishHawk rally to help neighbor

Neighbors are donating items and services to help recently hospitalized Brittany Mathers, who has neuromyelitis optica, and her family. They live in the FishHawk community.

Courtesy of Brittany Mathers

Neighbors are donating items and services to help recently hospitalized Brittany Mathers, who has neuromyelitis optica, and her family. They live in the FishHawk community.

LITHIA — FishHawk residents are rallying together to donate items and services to a local family whose daughter was diagnosed with a neurological disease that causes blindness.

Brittany Mathers, 21, was diagnosed less than a year ago with neuromyelitis optica, an incurable illness that caused her to lose her sight and is attacking her spinal cord.

When neighbor and family friend Kelly Glenn Rowjohn learned Mathers was recently hospitalized, she knew she had to do something to help.

"She is the most amazing young woman," Rowjohn said of Mathers. "She's absolutely beautiful. She's so outgoing and incredibly intelligent. Still to this minute, she just loves life. She's this amazing spirit."

Rowjohn, who founded Friends of FishHawk two years ago, said the community is known for its camaraderie and willingness to help when a neighbor is going through a tragedy.

Rowjohn reached out to others through social media and was flooded with responses. She put together a gift basket of donations and delivered it to Mathers in the hospital Tuesday. A signup was also created to help the family weekly with yard work and chores.

Rowjohn said Friends of FishHawk has helped more than 300 people in the past two years.

"With social media, people are becoming closer and you can hear things much more easily than before," Rowjohn said. "(The Mathers) are such an amazing family and they work together to take care of each other. But this is something they just can't tackle by themselves. … This community is always right there, no matter what."

Contact Caitlin Johnston at or (813) 661-2443. Follow @cljohnst.

Friends of FishHawk rally to help neighbor 07/02/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 7:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In your 20s and living with mom and dad? In Florida, you're not alone.

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — After graduating from the University of Florida in 2015, Gabrielle Piloto jumped on the highway and headed south to Tampa.

    Gabrielle Piloto, 22, moved home to live with her grandparents in West Tampa after graduating from the University of Florida in 2015. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]

  2. Review: Nick White's 'How to Survive a Summer' takes on homophobia at its worst


    Will Dillard's summer camp experience is a real horror movie.

  3. Senate leaders unveil bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act


    The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, who have promised a repeal of the Affordable Care Act for seven years, took a major step on Thursday toward that goal, unveiling a bill to cut Medicaid deeply and end the health law's mandate that most Americans have health insurance.

    U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill's chief author, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said "Obamacare is collapsing around us, and the American people are desperately searching for relief." [AP]
  4. Southwest Airlines to offer flights from Tampa to San Diego


    TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer new nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.

    Southwest Airlines is planning to launch service from Tampa to San Diego.
[Times file photo]
  5. The greatest coaches never to win it all


    As foregone conclusions go, some things are approaching the death-and-taxes stratosphere: summer humidity in Florida, a Kardashian seeking attention, and Mike Martin coming up short in Omaha.

    Florida State coach Mike Martin walks to the mound to talk to pitcher Cole Sands during the second inning of the team's NCAA College World Series baseball game against LSU Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. [AP photo]