The first Wellness Walk and Kids Run in support of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at Miami Meadows Park, in Milford.
A luncheon was held March 20 to set the walk in motion. This is the inaugural wellness walk for Clermont County and Judy Bonhaus, executive director of NAMI in Clermont County, welcomed a large crowd to find out more about the fund-raiser.
“The National Institute on Mental Health estimates that one in four families will have a loved one who has a mental illness or brain disorder. So mental illness is very common,” said Bonhaus. “Mental illness is a factor in nine out of 10 suicides. To end the stigma of mental illness, we need to be ‘our brother’s keeper.’ We may be the one who will prevent the next suicide.”
"We strive for a holistic approach to recovery," said Mike Brown, board president. "We help families strive for wellness in three areas; body, mind and spirit. We are in need of financial support, new members and collaboration of resources to help get the word out that there is hope and help available to the people of Clermont County suffering from mental illness or brain disorders."
The keynote speaker and honorary co-chair for the event was Jen Dalton of Local 12, WKRC and CinCW.
Dalton shared some of the experiences her family endured when her brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and later took his own life. After coping with mental illness and the effects on her own family, she wanted to help others going through similar circumstances and she wanted to make people more aware of mental illness.
She wrote a play for the 2007 Fringe Festival about her family's struggle. The play entitled "Mad" shows, first-hand, the challenges that face families, what type of treatment would best suit their particular situation and where they can receive help and support. The response to her play led to more opportunities to share her message.
"I realized there was a need to educate people about mental illness," said Dalton. "I had an opportunity to generate awareness through a talk-back show and discovered that so many people have questions about mental illness."
Dalton read a note from her mother about her experience in which she stated that as a parent of a child diagnosed with a mental illness she was at first embarrassed, but after becoming part of a support group realized that other parents were experiencing the same things. She encouraged those who are coping with mental illness to seek help and support and sees the work of NAMI as valuable to the community.
"My parents and I will all be at the walk on May 16," said Dalton.
"We have set a goal of $25,000 for the walk," said Bonhaus. "We want to promote awareness of mental illness, hope for those who are suffering and help for families in coping with their situations. Too many people are unaware that mental illness is a physical problem, a brain disorder. The brain is not functioning properly. People living successfully with mental illness do what we all should do for optimum health and wellness."
Teams and walkers are needed to help raise funds and awareness in Clermont County according to organizer Pat Scheper.
"We want this to be a family event," said Scheper. "We want to get the kids involved. We are promoting wellness for the community, invite your neighbors, bring your pets and enjoy the day. We have many activities planned during the walk that will involve the entire family. If you can't participate in the walk you can volunteer to help in other ways, we need people to help with registration also."
The web site manager Paul Komarek demonstrated how easy it is for everyone to register online or make a donation through the web site. Visit www.nami-cc.org for details about the event or to register a team. Registration for the walk begins 8:30 a.m. with the walk and kids run set to begin 9:30 a.m. at Miami Meadows Park, 1546 state Route 131, in Milford. Call Bonhaus for more information (513) 732-5419.