May 2010

Thank you, Oscar!


Thanks so much to all of you – our sponsors, team captains, walkers, affiliate leaders, and volunteers – for making the 2010 NAMI Northwest Walk such a great event! Despite chilly, rainy weather, 1,900 of you walked to show your support  – and two news crews showed up to appreciate your efforts!

So far, we have raised more than $165,000 – and there’s still time to donate! Help us reach our goal of $200,000: we are accepting donations online until July 23.

If you prefer to donate by check, please send your donation to NAMI NW Walk, 3550 SE Woodward St. Portland, OR 97202.  Please note which team and NAMI affiliate you are donating to.

Thanks again for making this a great event!

Why do I walk in the Portland NAMI Walk each year?

I will tell you honestly that I walk and serve as team captain because it is a part of my job.  I walk because it is a great way to get my family out and exercising on the beautiful Portland waterfront together.  I walk because my kids love the ice cream at the end (hint hint)!  I also walk because of the importance of organization’s such as NAMI and LifeWorks NW and the vital services offered to those in need.

I walk to lower stigma. I walk for so many reasons including my own family’s struggles with depression and anxiety, including my own that came to the surface in my mid-twenties at what seemed a high point in my life and career.

I walk for those of us who are often misunderstood and for parents who worry about passing down a mental health issue to their own child. I walk for those who live with mental health issues and struggles every day and for those who can no longer handle the struggle and leave us too soon.

I walk in hopes that I will never have to know another child who loses their parent to bipolar depression and suicide. For all these myriad reasons. I walk.

Sue Lyon-Myrick

LifeWorks NW Marketing Coordinator & LifeWorks NW Walkers Team Captain

I am honored to walk on May 23rd.

I walk because so many times I’ve wanted to run.  Run fast.  Run far away.

Away from the loss of my mother and older sister.   Beyond the stigma surrounding mental illness.   Past the pain and sadness.

Actually, I have run.  Alone, with a tear-stained face, I’d often yell up to the sky, “Why?   MY Mom?   Wendy?   What should I do now?” while my feet stumbled along.

But, today I have hopeHope for increased funding devoted to treatment and research.  Hope for greater public awareness and deeper compassion.   Hope that collectively we will heal.

This Sunday my time and energy will be dedicated to NAMI.  We can’t hang-up our running shoes just yet.  The marathon continues.  Another brave step. Every new day.

– Amy Smith

Lilly Glass Akoko, LCSW
Co-captain, Providence Pacers Team

From age 6 to 36, I battled severe and relentless depression. In spite of it, I played sports very well, I made it through graduate school, I married, and now have two beautiful boys and volunteer at several places.

To the world, I always looked good, seemed happy, appeared intelligent and seemed to have it all. But those of us who struggle with mental health issues know that on the inside, my world was constantly turned upside down and the pain in my head, in my heart and in my soul was unbearable.

I walk for the thousands of mothers who get put down because the world only sees who they think these mothers are, and fail to have a heart for what they are truly dying from inside.

I walk for the thousands of clients I have come in contact with who recidivate, who have ended their lives because it was just too much, who have also been helped, who have sometimes even been healed!

I walk for the TRUE SURVIVORS…those who have attempted to end their lives but are living today to tell about it, those who have attempted treatment over and over again but are living to inspire others, those who are brave like you and me, willing to share their story, no matter what the backlash may be! I walk to unite with others to overcome stigma and to support a system of care that truly works!

I have been depression free for the past 3 years and thank God every day for the healthy mind he has restored to me. My heart and my soul are blessed!

The reason I walk is in support of my daughter. She showed so much courage in her struggles to find the help she needs. Her fight is also for others who have no support, or sadly, no voice, because it falls on deaf ears.

Mental illness can make some people uneasy to talk about. But I believe things can only improve by bringing them to light and trying to understand.

It’s painful to see the disregard that so many people endure daily because we as a society don’t want to get involved. I am proud of my daughter, I admire her, I love her, and I will walk with her in this as well as through life.
– Bonnie B.

In 1979, at the age of 19, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD. It was the first of many hospitalizations. I felt degraded; I didn’t have support, and I felt like a rag doll that nobody wanted.

When I came out of the state hospital, there was no one to talk to about what was happening to me. I lost contact with my family, as they didn’t understand me and couldn’t “fix” me.

In 1986, I moved to Springfield and got connected with Lane County Mental Health and heard a little bit about NAMI of Lane County.

Two years ago, I became involved with NAMI of Lane County as a consumer resource board member. I support NAMI and walk because families and friends need to learn, understand, and get support for what their love one is going through. I feel that NAMI helps families stay stable as they support each other and share information.

I think if my family had the support NAMI provides, perhaps I may have been able to stay in contact with them. I may have been treated with dignity.

NAMI cares and NAMI gives HOPE!!!!!! That’s why I walk.

– Sue Sammis

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