30 Stories 30 Years

14 05, 2019


Jill I’ll never forget the day that he climbed the spiral staircase to my office. Each step was a strain and by the time he reached the top step and sat down beside me, his breathing was hard and heavy. I asked, "How's your back?" He answered, "Jill, I would live the rest of my life with daily back pain if I could only stop the demons in my head." That was about 15 years ago and "he" was Thad Eure, III. I was never able to fully comprehend how a person suffering with mental illness feels. I still don't. But I know that those of us not suffering should be more empathetic and understanding and patient. We should realize that even if we can't "see" how a friend may be afflicted, their demons are [...]

7 03, 2019


Louise I heard about the Walk for Hope way back in the early days. I missed the first one, but I went out there and was impressed—it was a much smaller group then. I remember they even served some fried fish and chocolate chess pie! My daughter got the wrong diagnosis for years and years and years. Some anticonvulsants, in some people, can cause psychotic behavior. That’s what happened to her when she was seven. They put her on phenobarbital, because she was on seizures, and within days, the teacher called and said, "There’s something wrong; it has to be the medicine." She was never supposed to be on phenobarb again in her life. But a doctor put her back on it, under a different name, in high school. It was 14 years before I [...]

6 03, 2019


Stephanie As an employee at Pepsi Bottling Ventures, I walked with some of our sales folks for the first time in 1990, all the way to 42nd Street Oyster Bar. A couple of us stopped at Fat Daddy’s to have a beer before continuing on! Sheriff Baker told us we were too far behind the crowd, and we needed to get in the back of his cruiser to catch us up to the rest of the group. The following year I helped set up the Pepsi products for the Walk and walked with everyone on the new route through Umstead Park. After that, I took over managing the products and making sure we NEVER ran out and streamlined set up so nobody would have to wait in line for beverages. At the time I didn’t realize [...]

6 03, 2019


Debbie We have a close friend who lost his 21-year-old son last year. His beautiful son was suffering from addiction and other mental health issues, so the importance of what this organization is doing is immeasurable. Our family remembers those early days of grief and how difficult they were. Years later, it's still not easy, but it has become more bearable. We've learned how to cope better and handle our grief for Reece so that we can still live and honor him and try to make a difference for others and their families struggling with the pain of mental illness. In 2016 I was inspired by my youngest daughter to run the Race for Steak and then walk afterwards as a family. I was a runner when I was younger, so I started running again! [...]

6 03, 2019


Richard I remember it as if it were yesterday—returning home from active duty in the United States Navy, the second my foot hit the tarmac at Greensboro International Airport, I became anxious and mildly depressed, which remained and from time to time got worse, not better, until I was 55 and my psychiatrist asked, "Would you like to try an experiment?" At that point in my life it wouldn’t have mattered, and so I replied, "Yes." He prescribed five medications at low doses. After a year of tweaking the doses, my anxiety and mood swings were gone, and I’d never felt as consistently good in my life. Most people with a mental illness are embarrassed to brag on themselves. I used to be ashamed of saying, "I’m a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War." [...]

6 03, 2019


Vivian My husband and I realized, from the time our daughter was two years old, that we couldn’t deviate from her schedule. She had anxiety and OCD—that expression hadn’t even been coined yet—and, later, bi-polar. Mary Katherine was 37 when she committed suicide. She just got tired, she gave up. I think I would have given up, too, if I’d been in her shoes. We had fought it. By the time she was in sixth grade, we were seeing the school psychologist; and we went to the Wilson County Mental Health Department; and there wasn’t hardly a doctor in Raleigh, Durham or Chapel Hill who was able to help us. It’s still a taboo subject. A lot of families don’t want to talk about it. But if one out of five suffers from some form [...]

6 03, 2019


Josh I am a combat veteran who suffers from the effects of PTSD on a daily basis. Shortly after I came across the Foundation, I was drawn to their purpose and was hooked on their people. When I found out that the research and treatment of mental illness also included PTSD, I felt like I could be a part of something that could make a difference. I have lost several of my combat brothers to depression and, in a way, I feel as though the Foundation is helping with the treatment of this deep, dark and lonely disorder. I believe everyone knows someone with some sort of mental illness, even if that person is themselves. It's important to me to help people in need. So volunteering with the Walk for Hope makes me happy and [...]

6 03, 2019


Bobby I’ve been with the Angus Barn since 1984. The first Walk started that year, and we walked from the Angus Barn all the way to the 42nd Street Oyster Bar. That was a very long walk! I had a daughter that had some mental illness. It didn’t show that she had it until later on in life—about 2012. We had had a birthday party for me, and we celebrated Christmas and my birthday, on December 17th. The very next day, about 11 that night, on a Sunday, she committed suicide. It tore me up. I really thought—she did have some mental illness problems. But it never showed in life until then. I wish that I could have seen it. Then I could have done something. That’s the reason that I really believe in the [...]

6 03, 2019


Jake It was my junior year of high school when I first heard of the Walk for Hope. I had recently joined Wake Forest High School’s DECA Inc. chapter and decided to volunteer at that year's Walk. Little did I know the impact that this organization would have in my life. At the Walk, my group and I were in charge of working the Pepsi stand, distributing drinks to the thousands of walkers that passed by. The passion and excitement that filled every single face that we saw that day was addictive, unlike anything I had ever seen before. The next year, my girlfriend Caroline and I decided to take our involvement to the next level. Through DECA, we created a public relations project called “Stand Against Stigma” with the Walk for Hope being one of our key [...]

6 03, 2019


Terry I suffer from depression myself, but that’s not why I started Vets to Vets United, Inc. I have a military background as an Air Force brat and Gold Star daughter. My father was a Tuskegee pilot killed while serving his tour of duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and my sister was also a Tuskegee pilot. I dedicated the program to both of them. I initially started it because I didn’t feel like I was fulfilling a mission from God. I prayed and asked God to give me something to do so that I could actually make a positive impact in our community. I love helping people. I’ve always volunteered in some type of way to help people. Although I’m a veterinarian, I went back to school and got a Ph.D. in molecular biology, and [...]