Pathways Weekend to Raise Awareness of Mental Disorders
Activities include a special appearance by actress and brain illness advocate, Patty Duke, a community walk, commemorative flower display and a massive balloon release.
"We have a dream -- and it's a big dream," says Marianne Kernan, co-chairwoman of the Pathway to Awareness Weekend. "We need to help stamp out the stigma associated with those suffering with brain disorders. We know this weekend, which is in observance of National Mental Illness Awareness Week, will be a tremendous steppingstone in helping to educate the community about these disorders."
The weekend begins on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m. with an appearance by Duke, actress and author of "A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness." Duke suffered from a serious -- but treatable -- brain disorder called bipolar.
Her discussion will illuminate her harrowing story and her long road to recovery. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is part of the popular Ruth Pauley Lecture Series and is co-sponsored by the Sandhills Community College Foundation.
According to Ellen Airs, co-chairwoman of Pathway to Awareness with Kernan, Sunday's events will bring the community together in an outreach campaign designed to heighten public awareness of these disorders.
"We've planned activities to interest everyone and we encourage them to attend and show their support," Airs said. "We need to reach out to all those affected and let them know we understand and are willing to help."
Sunday's events will showcase the community's growing involvement and care. From 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Duke will be available at Pinehurst Village Assembly Hall to conduct a book-signing, which is open to the public at no charge.
Beginning early Sunday morning, the group will recreate artist Vincent Van Gogh's "Irises," painted while he was institutionalized due to a brain disorder.
The commemorative display, known as the "Celebration of Courage" will be open to the public at the meadow next to Pinehurst Village Hall. The display will be constructed with irises, which is the NAMI symbol of hope.
Each of the flowers in the display represents a donation by someone in honor or memory of a person with brain illness.
Later in the afternoon, team and individual walkers are invited to the Pathway to Awareness Walk. Registration begins at 3 p.m. at the village of Pinehurst Assembly Hall, and the walk begins at 4 p.m.
Walkers will stroll a Pathway of Awareness dotted with small signs marking the names of famous people who suffer or have suffered from a brain illness. The pathway is located in the park area surrounding Village Hall, and walkers are encouraged to participate at their own comfortable pace and distance from one-half mile to two miles.
"Teams are being organized all over our community," Kernan said. "We have teams forming from local businesses, medical practices, churches, civic groups, family teams, and neighborhood teams, and they are all working to gather pledges to support this event. We'd love to see hundreds of walkers and encourage everyone to join in even if they are not part of a team."
Anyone interested in sponsoring a Pathway to Awareness Walk team can contact Patty Laughlin, preferably prior to the event, at 295-2337 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or NAMI Moore County at 295-1053.
At the conclusion of the Pathway to Awareness Walk, the "Candles in the Sky" observance will be held on the grounds of Pinehurst Village Hall. Because it will still be light outside, balloons will be substituted for the candlelight vigil that honors loved ones.
Balloons can be purchased either prior to the event by contacting NAMI Moore County at 295-1053 or on site. The balloons cost $5 and each will carry the name of a loved one or friend with a brain illness.
Everyone is welcome to watch the mass balloon launch, which promises to be a memorable way to conclude the Pathway to Awareness Weekend.
"Support from the community is key to the success of this event," Airs said. "We cannot thank the sponsors enough for their support."
Those include the village of Pinehurst, the Ruth Pauley Lecture Series, FirstHealth of the Carolinas, BB&T, Bill Smith Ford and The Pilot.
"The Pathway to Awareness Weekend needs to be a huge success for those that need it the most, our loved ones who suffer from brain disorders," Airs said.
NAMI Moore County welcomes donation to the Pathway to Awareness Weekend. Checks should be made payable to NAMI Moore County and mailed to P.O. Box 4823, Pinehurst, NC 28374. NAMI Moore County is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, and donations are tax deductible
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with serious brain illnesses and their families.
Founded in 1979, NAMI has become the nation's voice on mental illness, a national organization including NAMI organizations in every state and in more than 1,100 local communities across the country who join together to meet the NAMI mission through advocacy, research, support and education.
NAMI is dedicated to the eradication of brain disorders and to the improvement of the quality of life of all whose lives are affected by these illnesses.
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