Why I Walk

With such a short amount of time to the walk, we want to share some of the best quotes from our supporters, those people who were kind enough to tell us “Why I walk”.

On May 17th, we walk to give our thanks to NAMI for the support they have given us. We walk to help others have a brighter future. We walk because we care. -Sydney Lizundia

In a grateful tribute to her (my daughter’s) courage, I walk. It is the least, but not the only thing, I can do. –Linda Dunn

Like many other people living with mental illness, (my friend) Ward was treated as a throwaway person. I’m walking because this needs to change, and to make the statement that people like myself who are living with mental illness are members of the community, like everyone else; that we are not and should not be stigmatized and that we deserve equal access to healthcare and recovery. –Michelle Madison

I walk because I know I am moving in the right direction and because I know that others deserve the same opportunity to reach their dreams.  I walk because I believe that every person, given the proper support and care, has the ability to thrive. -Jillian Glazer

(My daughter) Tessa is my inspiration.  I am thankful she is still alive, because for a while I was not sure she would make it to her thirtieth birthday this year. Her illness has prompted me to become involved and tell our story. – Michele Veenker

Last fall, my son Tony would have turned 36 years old. To honor his memory and to support others that suffer diseases similar to what he had, my wife and I again this year walk on “His” team and work to raise funds to support NAMI-CC (Clackamas County Oregon). -Mark Anderson

I want to help in a small way, to endorse, support, and grow with my peers at NAMI. I also walk raise funds for our In Our Own Voice and Peer to Peer programs, where I mentor and give presentations. And the exercises and walk are helpful in just everyday life. I hope this is the start of an energetic adventure I can do yearly. – George Hagerman

It is a dream of mine to be able to give back what has been given to me and enrich my life in the process.  This is why I walk for NAMI.  I now know that I have a voice, focus on the gifts that my disability offers and share my experience to give hope to others and pursue my dreams without ever giving up.  This year I am walking in honor of my mom, children, grandchildren, and the rest of my wonderful family, as well as friends who have never given up on me. – Susan Greenawald

I walk for this sweet wonderful woman who showed me what mental illness can feel like. – Susan Ayres

I have spent most of my life watching a family member suffer from mental health issues. Now that I have a daughter with severe anxiety, I celebrate her successes and share her pain at the struggles she faces. I walk so she knows I’ve got her back and so others like me – with a loved one who suffers – and people like her – who win and lose battles every day – know they aren’t alone. –Rachel Petzold

I walk with NAMI so that others may find help without the terror I felt. I walk so that others don’t have to fight as many fights. I walk to make this country a better place for those of us with a mental illness. -Curtis


There are many reasons why I walk. I walk for my daughter who valiantly struggles daily with her bi-polar disorder. It would be beneficial for her to have a job to go to, it would aid in her recovery, but her Medicaid benefits would go away. That would leave her without the medications that help her win those battles. She would go away to jail or a hospital and the illness would win for a while.

I walk for the wonderful nurse practitioner that I spoke with yesterday. She’s looking for ways to help her indigent clients remain on their medications. The county mental health clinic where she works is facing a 30% reduction in their funding. The case managers know what will happen when they can no longer see the clients that will be cut. They will go away. Where do they go?

I walk for the young man in the waiting room with the fear in his eyes. He doesn’t understand what’s happening to him, he can’t make it stop. He doesn’t have a job, or insurance or anyone to help him. Will he have to go away?

I walk because I sat in my county commissioner’s office and they told me that there wasn’t any money to educate the officers in the jail where my daughter was beaten for being mentally ill. I was not the first person to sit in that chair with that story. They said they understand, their hands are tied, they will do all they can. Their eyes said “please go away”.

I walk because we’re told that there isn’t any money in a county to help people that need it. Mysteriously $500,000.00 is found to buy a sign. How many people will the sign help? Will it keep them medicated if they look long enough at it? How could a sign ever be more important than a person, let alone the many people that money would help? I walk because currently people with mental illness that depend on the government for help are not getting what they need and deserve, in July they will get 30% less. Where will that 30% come from? Who will have to go away and where will they go?

It costs roughly $175.00 a day to put someone in a jail cell. It costs $638.00 a day to hospitalize someone in a psychiatric bed. The average cost of giving people access to their medications ranges from $5.00 to $30.00 a day. Where is the savings in taking away their freedom and putting them away? Would anybody be able to run a household with these kinds of decisions, let alone a city, county or state?

I walk because there is strength in numbers. The people making the decisions on how to spend our money need to see the numbers. They need to understand the numbers of people that they are affecting. They need to understand how their costs saving decisions waste both money and lives. They need to see the number of people that might just decide to put someone in their chair that pays attention to those kinds of numbers.

Please join me.
Kim Schneiderman

Dear friends,

Yesterday I went to a memorial service for a young man who was dually diagnosed and never had access to proper mental health services. It was a compelling reminder of why we are doing this event – to raise awareness and hopefully prevent people in our community from becoming statistics.

NAMI Oregon and our affiliates in Oregon and Southwest Washington are lobbying hard against mental health funding cuts, as well as providing resources for people living with mental illness and our loved ones. Your efforts – donating your time, your funds, and getting friends, family members, and others involved – are so important!

Thank you for all that you do.
-Michelle Madison, Walk Manager

Today, we have received donations of just over 30% of our walk dollar goal (that’s almost $69,000 and counting!!) and have 108 teams. What have you done to help?

I wanted to share the letter I sent to everyone I know. Telling our story has such an impact – have you shared your story? Do it now!

Hi, friends.

I recently joined the Board of Directors for a very important non-profit organization. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) works diligently to fill in the gaps where insurance, medical intervention and other traditional avenues fall short in helping people with mental illnesses and their families. NAMI offers a referral line to help guide people through the confusing maze of our mental health system and much, much more.

Did you know that mental illness is on the rise in young people? That whether you realize it or not, someone you know most likely suffers from some form of debilitating mental illness? That children with depression and anxiety are 20 times more likely to commit suicide than mentally healthy teenagers?

It doesn’t have to be that way.
I envision a brighter future for Sara and others like her that struggle to survive. I want her to thrive. Society has often stigmatized those with mental illness, making it difficult to find help and services. Legislators need to hear that 1 in 6 of their constituents has suffered from a mental illness at some time in their lives. Mentally ill people are SICK, just like someone with breast cancer or diabetes. They can’t just shake it off, make it stop, get over it. They don’t just make this up to get out of responsibilities. And we all need to be part of the solution.

You Can Help.
The NAMI NW Walk is fast approaching. On Sunday, May 17th, I will be walking for Sara. My 16 year old daughter suffers from severe, sometimes debilitating anxiety. She is an amazingly bright young woman, a talented artist, she dresses like a character out of an anime cartoon and charms everyone she meets. People often tell me “She can’t be anxious – look how much fun she is when she’s with us.” But her anxiety overwhelms her at times, so much so that she cannot leave the house, she stays up all night with worries, and she stops doing the things she enjoys. She cries a lot, and her anxiety puts a huge amount of stress on our family. Even many of her close family members and friends do not understand that this is something that she can’t just “snap out of”.

So what does NAMI do?
NAMI is a grassroots organization that provides support, referrals and education. There are programs for those struggling with mental illness as well as family programs to help people like me who struggle to help a loved one (see http://www.NAMI.org/Oregon for details). And it’s FREE. Not a penny is collected from those in need. The participation of people like you makes it possible to continue these programs. NAMI Oregon wants to add new programs centering on young people in the near future. Help me make those dreams a reality.

NAMI also is a strong voice with the Oregon legislature as well as nationally, to make sure that promises of government support, housing for those in need and services that provide long term solutions are front of mind as time goes by. When those with mental illness do not receive treatment and support, they wind up on the street, out of work, and in emergency rooms, creating a huge financial drain on societal resources. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Money is tight everywhere and most government agencies are being asked to cut budgets by as much as 30%. That means the most vulnerable people in society are likely to be affected greatly by these cuts. Mental health services are harder to find. Some people have to fight just to get medical treatment, many people can’t afford their medications, let alone counseling and other support.

That’s where you come in.
Read Their Stories: at naminwwalk.wordpress.org you will read the stories of people with mental illness and their struggles, as well as stories like mine – of people who advocate for their loved ones to help them live better lives. Check out the Why We Walk stories. These people are amazing.

Can’t afford much?
It only costs $24 to provide a workbook for a class participant. A donation of $100 helps put on a seminar for families that want to help a loved one. Even $5 helps supply educational materials that can give someone help, hope and piece of mind. Give what you can. All of the teachers and volunteers are paid absolutely nothing for their participation – every penny goes toward helping those in need. And every penny makes a difference.

My goal of $500 raised will easily be met if we all pitch in $25. That’s a weeks worth of Starbucks. Or a tank of gas. You can donate securely to my team online at:


If you’d rather send a check, please send it to:
Attn: Michelle Madison, NAMI Oregon, 3550 SE Woodward Street, Portland, OR 97202. Make it payable to NAMI Oregon and be sure to put: for Rachel Petzold’s Team, NAMIWalk somewhere in your communication so my team gets credit.

Can’t Afford to Donate?
Then walk with me and help me find others to walk, too. Or, volunteer to hand out water and sign up walkers at the event. Be a cheerleader for the large number of mentally ill and other participants that walk in our event. Last year was my first opportunity to participate in the walk and I’m excited to not only be a walker but the volunteer coordinator again this year. Yes, Rachel likes to boss people around…

Thank you for your support of me and the girl with the cat ears. And my many friends, old and new, who show me that every moment here is precious, as are the people that fill them.

Thank you – donate today!!
Rachel Chereck Petzold

My daughter was diagnosed as bipolar 25 years ago. She lost her
entire youth, fighting to survive. After 8 hospitalizations, and many
attempts to find medications to help her, she is now stable and
happy. Though she will never gain back all those years she lost in
socialization, education, and career, she sees herself as lucky!


Because of her, I have become a more tolerant, patient, and yes,
grateful person. She did not leave us — she stayed, even when she
didn’t want to. In a grateful tribute to her courage, I walk. It is
the least, but not the only thing, I can do. ~Linda Dunn

For more stories like this, visit Why We Walk.

On March 29th, 1995 I walked. I walked for eight miles. Voices that only I heard were telling me to go. A voice told me that the world would be better off without me. I tried to walk away. I stopped on Mt. Davidson. The voices did not. Another said I would feel better if I were dead. I walked again, stopping next in Golden Gate Park. The voices did not rest. I was told to move faster, people were coming after me. I walked out of the park, through the Presidio, onto the Golden Gate Bridge. I climbed over the railing and looked down at the cool, green, water far below.


“Jump!” shouted a chorus.

I did not. I climbed back over the railing. The bridge patrol arrived a few minutes later. On this day I was admitted to a hospital for the first time. My journey started on a warm spring day in San Francisco. Years later, over twenty different medications later, I have some stability.

I walk with NAMI so that others may find help without the terror I felt. I walk so that others don’t have to fight as many fights. I walk to make this country a better place for those of us with a mental illness. ~Curtis

Cindy and her mom, Bonnie in 1973

Cindy and her mom, Bonnie, in 1973

My name is Cindy and I am walking for my kind, loving 62 year-old mother, Bonnie. She has suffered from moderate anxiety and depression for over 30 years. Up until 2008, a variety of medications kept her functional and able to lead a successful life, raising her two daughters along with my father and earning her Masters in Education teaching ESL. In the Spring of 2008, after several years of dealing with chronic pain from trigeminal nerve damage, Fibromyalgia, having to give up teaching and additional major life stressors, her medication completely stopped working and she became treatment resistant.

In June 2008, she attempted suicide by overdosing on sedative medications. She was hospitalized 3 times over the course of the summer – the last hospitalization lasting 2 months. She was suicidal, refused to eat and refused to get out of bed at the hospital. The staff at Providence St. Vincent’s was wonderful – everyone from our social worker, the nurses to the doctors were always there to help her as well as assist me during this time of crisis. She was diagnosed with Melancholic Depression (a subtype of Major Depression) – basically unable to find any interest, hope or joy in anything whatsoever.

When it became apparent that no medications or therapy attempts would work, our alternative to keep her alive was electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). After 10 treatments she was released from the hospital into my care. She was scared, had memory loss and was basically non-functional on most accounts. Although, she was eating and able to get out of bed which were huge improvements from the previous months. When the new prescriptions did not work to treat the major depression and anxiety that was resurfacing again she began to spiral downward, we needed to take her in for 7 more outpatient ECT treatments. Once stabilized again, an MAOI prescription was started as well as Lithium and we finally started to see some very slow improvements.

She continues to struggle with some depression, concentration issues and has lost major memories from the past 10-15 years from the depressive episode and ECT, but she’s continuing to make more and more improvements in getting her life back. She’s a wonderful grandmother, who now lives with us and is able to devote lots of love to her two precious granddaughters. We are so happy and thankful she is still here with us.

I am also walking as a tribute for my uncle Ron (my mom’s older brother), whom I do not remember as I was only a toddler when he died. He suffered from Bipolar Disorder during the 1960’s – early 1970’s. Unfortunately, he took his own life after dealing with the disorder for 10 years.