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Performance by the Real Soloist Caps Off 2009 NAMI National Convention

A spectacular performance from Nathaniel Ayers highlighted an inspiring week at the 2009 NAMI National Convention in San Francisco.

Ayers, the subject of book and movie The Soloist , was the recipient of this year’s Rona and Ken Purdy Award. 

Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times and Jennifer Ayers Moore, Nathaniel’s sister, presented Nathaniel with the award in honor of his bravery in sharing his personal story.

Ayers played both the cello and violin much to the delight of the crowd. 

Video of his acceptance speech and performance can be seen below:

Other celebrities in attendance included HOUSE cast member Peter Jacobson, who plays Dr. Taub on the series, and David Foster, M.D., a writer and medical consultant for the show.  NAMI honored the Fox television series with the Friend of the Family Award for their commitment to NAMI’s cause.

Earlier in the week, NAMI’s convention kicked off with a special screening of When Medicine Got it Wrong, a PBS documentary that follows the journey of NAMI’s founding members from the early days of their revolutionary grassroots movement to NAMI’s founding as a national organization.

2009 marks the 30th anniversary for NAMI, so the screening was an opportunity to celebrate NAMI’s legacy and honor its founding members.

Speaking of “founding members,” long tenured NAMI member and tireless advocate Stella March was bestowed with NAMI’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

Another highlight of the convention came with the release of Double Tragedies, a groundbreaking report, in collaboration with Murder Victims Families for Human Right (MVFHR).

The report brought families of murder victims and families of the executed together to talk about their experiences and to share their reasons for opposing the death penalty for people with severe mental illnesses.

A few of the families who participated in the report also took part in a symposium where they personally relayed their stories and views to a group of NAMI convention attendees.

NAMI thanks all the NAMI members, staff, speakers, sponsors and everyone else for making the 2009 convention our best convention yet!

Videos, photos and highlights from the convention, are available at