Monday, October 10, 2011

WOW, What A Walk!

It's hard to imagine worse weather than what we experienced at the NAMI Walk on Sunday, Oct. 2 in Pittsburgh's SouthSide Works. It was cold (39 degrees) with sharp winds and rain showers. Volunteers and sponsors--and a few brave walkers--trickled in slowly in the early morning hours. By 9 a.m., there were a few dozen walkers, all bundled and seeking shelter under any tent that was available.

Even our mascots--the Pittsburgh Pierogies in their weatherproof costumes--were hesitant to run around in the rain!

But something happened. People started coming in droves. The coffee, hot chocolate and gourmet tea provided by Bean Catering, as well as refreshments from the Kaufman House, warmed our walkers and got them moving.  DJ Dale McCue started playing lively music, and to our surprise, people began dancing in the rain!

By 10 a.m., when John Tucci regaled us with the Star Spangled Banner and our dedicated walkers waved tiny flags in the air, over 1,000 people had arrived and were lined up and ready to walk.

Our three major television news stations covered the event: all of these wonderful walkers coming out in horrible weather to raise awareness of mental illness and to celebrate recovery. That is the NAMI spirit, and we are still amazed by our phenomenal teams, walkers, volunteers and sponsors who brought sunshine on a cold, wet and dreary day. And yes, the sun came out right as the walk began!

The 5th Annual NAMI Walk may be over, but our teams are still holding fundraisers and we are still collecting online donations on the walk website throughout October. We are inching our way to our $150,000 goal and appreciate every dollar we have received so far. Thank you for your generosity and support!

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