I’ve been involved with the Walk for Hope for 30 years. I was doing charity work, and my friend asked me if I would do this walk, and of course I said yes because he was always so good to me. Then, when I found out it was for mental illness research and treatment, it hit home because my family has been so affected by mental illness, and I thought, “This is a way that I can give back, or I can do something, rather than just feel bad.” So I walked with the people from the Barn that first year. I felt like I was taking some steps, I was doing something, for the cause of mental illness.
My aunts and my uncles were affected with various mental illnesses, not just one or the other; and—at the time, I didn’t know—my cousins also showed some signs of mental illness. So many of my family members have been affected; we recently lost a family member to suicide. He was 18. I felt helpless.
Then, my third year of walking, I felt like, “I’m bringing some awareness. I’m doing something to help my family.” Then I started a team the next year and have had a team ever since: Bivens’ Believers. We were the top money-raisers for three or four years, and I felt a great sense of, “Yay, I am really helping to find some pathways, some inroads to some solutions.”
When I wasn’t teaching, I was volunteering at the Foundation. Whenever I could, either in the summers or after school, I would volunteer, and I have been doing so for most of the last 30 years.
Now, I’m one of the co-leads on Registration, and it’s a cause near and dear to my heart. I think I will always be a volunteer. I want to be part of the solution. I want to help erase the stigma. I want to promote getting help when needed. I want to promote and do whatever I can to make sure that there is treatment available. I want to do whatever I can to continue the research, because it’s so important. I want to be a part, ‘til the day I die, of the solution. I want the stigma to go away.