Our family learned about the Foundation of Hope more than 21 years ago on a visit to see family in North Carolina while we were living in Texas. With so many friends and family touched by mental illness, it felt like a significant way to make an impact in their lives. We started raising funds and traveling to town for the October Walk weekend, eventually moving to Raleigh and getting more involved with each passing year.
This past Walk was markedly different from the others as we were missing a monumental presence: it was our first Walk for Hope without my dad, Jim Brenner, who passed away in November 2017.
Throughout the years, my dad was a passionate advocate and steadfast fundraising partner for this very worthy cause. He’d drive me around the neighborhood to knock on doors and talk to folks about the work that the Foundation was doing; he’d call up friends and invite them to come down and experience the main event for themselves; and he’d even stay up all through the night baking cookies in the Angus Barn kitchen for our mega bake sales at Sam’s Club.
As it became more and more challenging to continue to keep up the same level of fundraising effort after I moved away, my dad would reach out and step up even more to ensure we’d be ready for another Walk. He would collect aluminum cans and turn them into proceeds for the Foundation with the help of his dear friends and most active supporters Larry, Linda and Joe Graham.
Toward the end of his life, he suffered from dementia, and it became even harder for him to do the work he was so passionate about. It feels like the perfect cause for us to have dedicated ourselves to and continue to support a foundation focused on improving mental health and making it possible to have important conversations about our most fundamental needs.
My dad would have loved to be part of this past year’s Walk—a festival addition is something he would have dreamed of. We honored him in our efforts last year and will hold him close in the years to come.
Thank YOU for reading this story and for your support of the Foundation of Hope. Together we have made an impact, and together we can continue to make a difference, one step (by 1000 Friends and more) at a time!