Fundraising Walk for Mental Health Support and Awareness Set for Oct. 27

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Washington will hold its eighth annual public awareness and fundraising walk at Marina Park on Saturday morning, October 27, 2012, in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland.

The national nonprofit’s mission is to help individuals with serious mental illness and their family members by offering information, education, referral services, support and advocacy. As the sole fundraising event for NAMI’s operations across the state, the NAMI Walk of Washington is crucial for the 34-year-old organization.

“We’ve had 45 sponsors from around the state step up, offering a record amount of sponsorship dollars, which cover the cost of the event,” said Walk Manager Annie Koch. “We’re very grateful because this is such a critical fundraiser for us.”

Organizers expect as many as 1,500 participants. The walk will start at 9:30 a.m., with check-in beginning at 8 a.m. The three-mile course (5 kilometers) extends from Marina Park in Kirkland to Carillon Point and back. A shorter course is also planned.

Radio personality and Seattle business columnist Patti Payne will emcee the event, and the Mariner Moose, on break from baseball season duties, will stop by to cheer on participants. The popular Seattle band Down North, known for alternative funk and soul, will perform.

NAMI is a chief advocate for mental health services and treatment programs. The organization has 23 local offices across Washington, most of which are participating in the walk, as well as a state organization that supports those offices.

NAMI is unique: Not only does it help individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other forms of serious mentail illness, it offers help to their family members, who need information and support themselves.

Walk funds are used to cover the expense of training teachers and facilitators who offer free classes and lead support groups for individuals with serious mental illness and their close relatives and partners. These classes and groups offer critical, sometimes life-saving support.

Walk Committee Chair Christine Lindquist, who also serves as executive director for the NAMI office in Seattle, said the money raised each year by the NAMI Walk is essential to the organization’s mission.

“Family education is an evidenced-based practice that we know helps individuals with serious and persistent mental illness lead fuller, healthier, more productive lives,” Lindquist said. “NAMI not only provides programs for individuals who are ill but also to their family members, often their primary caregivers.”

In addition to training, walk proceeds help fund the mostly volunteer offices across Washington, Lindquist said.

Walk organizers hope the event will bring in $300,000 this year.

With the costs of the event covered by sponsors, Koch said, “what we need now are more volunteers stepping up to lead walk teams to raise money for NAMI. In this economy, with all the budget cuts, it’s more important than ever that NAMI has the funds it requires to help people.”

To register to walk and/or donate to the event, go to www.namiwalks.org/washington.  A guide to registering is on the site.

Walk-day volunteers are needed and may contact Volunteer Coordinator Chitra Subramanian at chitrawork@hotmail.com.

More information: www.namiwalks.org/washington