National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Stars Come Out for NAMIWalks

In 2009, NAMI’s signature awareness and fundraising event continues to open doors for mental health advocates all across the country.  With more than 400 state and local NAMI affiliates participating and sharing in the funds raised, the NAMIWalks program is on track to raise more than $8 million and reach more people than ever before with NAMI’s message of hope. 

On the same day in May, TV and movie star Glenn Close joined the NAMIWalk in Maine while “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” star Ty Pennington walked with NAMI in one of the events in New York.  Their willingness to join this growing public discussion and add their own stories is another sign of how far NAMI has come. 

The list of elected officials and public figures that have attended and supported NAMIWalks events is long and grows every year.  While the attention their participation garners is significant, nothing can match the impact that every single walker is capable of if they use the occasion to connect people in their own personal network to NAMI.  By asking friends and family to support us, we have the opportunity to talk about mental illness in a way that will have a meaningful impact on people’s understanding of the issue.  We can use the Walk to discuss the prevalence of mental illness in the community; its indiscriminate nature; the fact that recovery is possible when treatment is available and we can talk about the hope that NAMI represents.

Although the final numbers are incomplete for the spring NAMIWalks season, there is no doubt that 2009 will be another record-breaking year for what has become the largest mental illness awareness campaign in the country.  In spite of what is being called the toughest economy in years, many NAMIWalks events had their best year ever in 2009.  Overall, corporate support for NAMIWalks is keeping pace with last year’s levels and there has been a significant increase in both the number of walkers and supporters.

With 36 Walks scheduled this fall, this trend is expected to continue with bigger Walks that impact more people in more meaningful ways.  The NAMIWalks program is helping communities in 45 states reach out and invite everyone we know to be part of this effort and to learn more about mental illness and recovery at a time when NAMI programs are needed more than ever before. 

If you are reading this and are near one of the 80 NAMIWalks being organized for 2009, get connected and join the fun!  To find the NAMIWalk nearest you, visit