IOWA CITY– The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Johnson County will hold its fifth annual WALK for the Mind of America on Saturday, May 2. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.
The public is invited to participate in this annual fundraising event at Lower City Park in Iowa City. Walkers can choose between a short one-mile trek “All in the Park,” or a 5K walk through Lower City Park, out the west end of Lower City Park to Crandic Park and back along the Iowa River. Families, neighbors, friends, co-workers, church members, local high schools, service clubs and organizations are encouraged to attend. NAMI-UI and NAMI Linn County will also have WALK teams participating in the WALK.
The Honorary Co-Chairs for the 2009 NAMI WALK of Johnson County are Dr. Lane Plugge, Superintendent of Schools, Iowa City Community School District, and Barry Sharp, Medical Center Director, Veterans Administration Medical Center. Family Team Co-Chairs are June Judge and Juli Kennedy. Business Team Co-Chairs are Dr. Michael Flaum (Director, Div. of Public & Community Psychiatry; Director, Iowa Consortium for Mental Health) Department of Psychiatry in the UI Carver College of Medicine; and Dr. Brian Kaskie, Associate Professor, Health Policy, UI College of Public Health, and Center on Aging.
Even non-walkers won’t want to miss all the activities happening in Lower City Park. For entertainment, Ben Schmidt and Larry Mossman will be performing starting at 9:00 a.m. and Nic Arp will be performing to welcome the walkers as they return from their trek. The bellydancers with the Kahraman Dance Studio who have been at previous NAMI WALKs will be there again this year to perform and lead warm-up exercises prior to the WALK. Led by Wendy Stegall and Marie Wilkes, they will provide fun and easy “bollywood style” movement to the theme song from “Slum Dog Millionaire” (“Jai Ho” which translates basically to “Hooray for the Victorious!”) There will also be face painting and refreshments, and Gunny the Clown will be there again this year.
Friday evening prior to the WALK, Stacia McGrath is again working with Girl Scout troops in Iowa City and Coralville to do chalk drawings about what they have learned about mental illness.
In 2009, NAMI will hold nearly 80 NAMI Walks across America.
“The goal of every volunteer, sponsor, walker and supporter,” said National NAMI Walks Program Director Warren Karmol, “is simply to involve as many people as possible, to raise as much money as possible, so that NAMI can help as many Americans with mental illness as possible.
To register online for the Walk or to make a donation, please visit the NAMIWALKS website at www.nami.org/namiwalks . If you’d like more information about the WALK, contact NAMI WALK Manager Della McGrath at (319) 358-8448 or firstname.lastname@example.org .