My mom and her twin sister were diagnosed in their teens with paranoid schizophrenia back in the 1960s. While my aunt is alive and managing quite well, we lost my mom in 1987 at age 38. I was nine years old when she passed. 2017 marked the 30th anniversary of my mom’s passing. Early that year I started researching events to participate in that raised money for mental illness/mental health treatment and research to pay tribute her memory.

That’s when I found the Race for Steak/Walk for Hope. I had no idea that this wonderful fundraising opportunity existed in my backyard and that the Foundation of Hope has been involved in the local community for almost the same exact length of time that my mom has been gone for. I thought it was a beautiful and perfect way to bear witness to my mom and aunt and their struggles, so I organized a handful of friends and family to participate with me.

I strongly believe that exercise, and running in particular, is a very powerful tool in the mental health toolbox, so I signed up to run the Race for Steak 5K and convinced a friend into running her very first 5K there. My friends and I had so much fun at the event and felt so good about the positive impacts that the Foundation of Hope has achieved that we decided to make it an annual event for us.

During the walk, my friends mentioned that they were not only participating in the Walk for Hope to help me pay tribute to my mom’s memory, but to support me also—I was first diagnosed at age 16 with clinical depression and PTSD. Twenty-five years later, I still struggle with severe depression cycles from time to time and have been hospitalized for it in the past.

The Foundation of Hope has been doing so many great things in the community for such a long time, and I am a proud supporter. One day, with the Foundation’s help, perhaps better treatment options and even a cure will be available for severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia. Until then, we will continue to walk, run, raise money for research and build community support.

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