NAMI’s Campaign for the Mind of America Launches NAMIWALKS in 11 States

From Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine: First Steps in Broader National Campaign

Apr 14 2003

Arlington, VA - Thousands of Americans will take to the streets next month to support research, education and advocacy to improve the lives of people living with mental illnesses.

NAMIWALKS is part of the Campaign for the Mind of America, sponsored by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).

In 12 communities around the United States, individuals with mental illnesses, families and friends will walk to raise funds for NAMI state and local affiliates—as part of the organization’s first nationally-coordinated walkathon effort, coinciding with Mental Health Month.

"Nationwide, we hope to help eliminate stigma—and change the way people think about mental illness," said Joleen Bagwell, NAMI’s national development director. Distances range from two to seven miles. Dates and sites include:

  • May 3 Naples, Florida
  • May 4 Ellicott City, Maryland
  • May 10 Wilmington, Delaware
  • May 10 Portland, Maine
  • May 10 St. Louis, Missouri
  • May 10 Springfield, Missouri
  • May 17 Edmond, Oklahoma
  • May 18 Cleveland, Ohio
  • May 18 Manchester, New Hampshire
  • May 18 Mount Holly, New Jersey
  • May 18 Portland, Oregon
  • May 24 Lake Charles, Louisiana

"This year’s walks represent the first steps in building a broader campaign for the future," Bagwell said. "The bottom-line for every NAMI volunteer and supporter is to involve as many people as possible in the walks and to raise as much money as possible—so that NAMI can help as many people as possible."

Media and corporate sponsors, civic groups, teams and individuals will converge in NAMIWALKS out of faith that America can become a better home for people affected by biological brain disorders that disrupt the ability of one in four Americans to think, feel and relate to others or their environment.

In Louisiana, U.S. Senator John Breaux has taped public service announcements in support of that state’s walk.

"NAMIWALKS are about fundraising and friendraising," said Bagwell, who has a close family member with a brain disorder. "Mental illnesses involve struggle, but they also involve hope. NAMIWALKS are intended to be celebrations of faith, family and friendships as keys to recovery."

"We will have balloons, music, bounce-houses, gifts, and even cheerleaders. Every walk site will be unique," she said.