Kirkland to Host Awareness and Fund-Raising Walk for Mental Illness May 14

NAMI Washington will hold its seventh annual awareness and fund-raising walk in Kirkland’s Marina Park May 14.

The state organization of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and its 22 affiliates provide education, support and advocacy for individuals living with mental illness and their families. NAMI is a chief advocate for mental health services and treatment programs.

The 2011 Walk will find walkers checking in beginning at 8:30 a.m. with the walk along Lake Washington Boulevard commencing at 9:30 a.m. Walk organizers expect as many as 1,500 walkers this year. The three-mile course extends from Marina Park to Carillon Point and return. A shorter course is also planned.

“We are extremely pleased that Fairfax Hospital of Kirkland has chosen to become our first presenting Walk sponsor,” said NAMI Washington President Farrell Adrian of Shoreline. “Fairfax is a natural partner in our mission to improve the quality of life for all those affected by mental illnesses. We also appreciate Kirkland’s welcoming and supportive spirit.”

Walk committee chair John Hughes added that “raising public awareness works best when support and advocacy groups come together with providers and a supportive community. By working with Fairfax Hospital in that regard, we are associated with a premier provider devoted to innovative and compassionate behavioral health services”.

Buoyed by the support of a record-number 40 underwriting sponsors this year, the organizing committee hopes to raise $220,000 to provide funds for NAMI’s core programs and educational classes offered through the affiliates.

The walk is the primary source of funds needed to provide instructors, materials and sites for free classes and for support groups for individuals and families living with mental illness. Walk dollars cover NAMI-developed materials and teacher training for its signature programs – Family-to-Family, Peer-to-Peer, In Our Own Voice, NAMI Basics, Connections, and Educating the Next Generation. All are in keeping with NAMI’s mission of advocacy, education and support for the one in four families caring for someone with a mental illness – from onset through treatment and while in recovery.

The ability of the 22 affiliated chapters throughout Washington to avoid long waiting lists and to offer much-needed additional classes, referrals and resources is largely dependent on the success of the annual walk.

Those desiring to register and/or donate for the Walk should go online to www.nami.org/namiwalks/wa or contact Walk Coordinator Annie Koch, of Seattle, at (206) 257-2206 for complete details.

Walkday volunteers are needed and may contact Volunteers Coordinator Chitra Subramanian, of Houghton, at chitrawork@hotmail.com or by phone at (206) 569-4986. Tom Anderson, of Redmond, of AndEvent, Inc., is walk director and can be reached at (206) 510-9160.

To schedule a speaker on the subject of NAMI’s work in mental illness awareness, interested parties may contact Walk Chair John B. Hughes of Bothell at jb.hughes@comcast.net.

In addition to Adrian, Hughes, Koch, Subramanian and Anderson, the NAMI Washington Walk 2011 committee includes Kate Butcher of Kirkland, Oscar Peterson of Tacoma, Jim Bloss of Monroe, Mike Maloney of Woodinville, Nancy Cole of Everett, and Patricia Skinner and Christine Lindquist, both of Seattle.