NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. In 2011, the NAMIWalk SF Bay Area raised over $363,000 which was shared among the seven affiliates participating last year. With a 21.2% reduction to the State of California mental health services budget from FY2009 to FY2012, raising funds to keep NAMI’s services free in the greater Bay Area is more important than ever.
Walkers can register both as individuals and as teams comprised of even just two walkers. Teams are created for a variety of reasons such as that of Marin County’s Becky Placek who formed her own walk team, “Hope Keeps Going In Memory of John and Charlie,” with daughter, Jennifer and son, Joe in memory of her son, John and husband, Charlie.
In 2006 at the age of eighteen, John was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD) shortly after the family moved from Chicago to Marin County. In 2008, the Placek family sought help from the NAMI Marin affiliate to learn how to deal with their family’s mental health crisis and took a twelve week course which taught them how to recognize the signs of and behavior associated with BPD which is a medical condition.
“A diagnosis of mental illness of one family member affects the entire family unit which has to learn to how to deal with their illness. NAMI’s Family to Family support and education courses for family members of people with mental illness are invaluable and helped us tremendously,”
After children turn eighteen, parents cannot legally force their children to seek help. Despite the Placek’s best efforts, John slipped further into BPD behaviors such as isolation, severe depression and manic episodes. Unfortunately, John passed away suddenly due to an undiagnosed heart condition in March of 2009 at the young age of twenty-one. Suffering from depression and anxiety himself, Charlie unexpectedly died from a stroke only five weeks later.
“Each year, Jennifer, Joe and I participate in the NAMIWalk SF Bay Area to not only honor John and Charlie and to keep their memory alive, but also to raise funds that support the NAMI Marin affiliate. Our goal is that other families like ours can benefit from the free NAMI programs in Marin County. NAMI’s support and services provided us with hope and let us know that we were not alone in the daily struggle,” she added.
Registration is free for walkers. Funds are raised through donations by supporters of walk teams and corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsors for 2012 include biotechnology giant Genentech (Premiere Sponsor) and Information Technology giant Hitachi (Presenting Sponsor). These two new corporate sponsors join Presenting Sponsor Mary Alexander returning for a second year, and Dixon Financial Services and John Muir Behavioral Health that have been Presenting Sponsors for eight years running. It is through donations to walk teams and generous sponsors like these that allow the important work of non-profit NAMI affiliates to continue in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Proceeds from the 2012 walk will be used locally to underwrite and support the mental health programs provided by nine Bay Area NAMI affiliates most needed in their area as a FREE public service, including:
• Family to Family, a multi-week support and education course for family members of people with mental illness,
• Parents and Teachers as Allies, an in-service program helping school professionals better understand the early warning signs of mental illnesses in children,
• In Our Own Voice, an anti-stigma speaker’s bureau helps educate about mental health issues from schizophrenia to bi-polar disorder (BPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more,
• NAMI also advocates politically locally and nationally for improved public policies addressing the needs of the mentally ill and their families.
FOR INFORMATION or to REGISTER, call Walk Director, Laurie Williams, at 1-800-556-2401, or email questions to info@namiwalkSFbay.org. To register online , click the following link: http://www.nami.org/
WHAT: 8th Annual NAMIWalk Fundraiser - 5K (3 miles) & shorter 2K walk routes.
(Register as an individual, join a team or create your own.)
WHEN: Saturday, June 2, 2012
9:00 AM (On-site Registration & Check-in), 10:30 AM (Opening Ceremony)
11:00 AM (Walk Starts), Post-Walk to 2 PM (live music, info booths, food for purchase.
Or, bring a picnic lunch.)
30th Ave and John F Kennedy Drive, San Francisco, CA, 94121
(Children under 18 are welcome with a guardian. Dogs on leashes okay.)
ABOUT NAMI: Founded in 1979, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a non-profit, grassroots organization with over 1,000 affiliates nationwide that provides education, support services and advocacy to improve the lives of everyone affected by mental illness. NAMI had its origins in San Mateo County, California in 1974 through Parents of Adult Schizophrenics at a time when mothers were being blamed for causing mental illness. Today, NAMI is as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country. For information about NAMI programs, visit www.nami.org.
[ NOTE to Producers, Assignment Editors and Reporters: Interviews and/or comments are available in the days leading up to and on-site between 9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. the day of the NAMIWalk SF Bay Area on Saturday, June 2, 2012 in Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Contact press release author via email.]