On October 5th, members and friends of the Graceland University Active Minds Club went to Des Moines, IA to celebrate “Stop Out Stigma” week.
The club helped to stomp out stigma with every step of a 3-mile NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Walk. The walk was sponsored by several local businesses and helped raise funds to support programs and education relating to mental health.
Six Graceland students anxiously rode up to Des Moines that morning. After getting some hot chocolate, walk manager Marijke Hodgson gave a speech to the whole group, thanking and motivating everyone who came to show their support. Then the crowd took its first steps.
Everyone walked with purpose. Family and friends held signs in memory of loved ones they had lost due to mental illness, others walked alongside their loved ones who were currently dealing with mental illnesses, and others still supported making a difference for those with mental illness; everyone walking together was a beautiful and harmonious sight. All of the students who made the decision to attend the NAMI walk decided to participate based on a personal experience or a passion to support the mental health community.
Karli Conrad-Davis talked about her reason for doing the 3-mile excursion, saying: “The NAMI walk was wonderful! I did it because my life has personally been touched by mental illness and I know it’s a much bigger part of other peoples’ lives as well.”
Not only was it moving and powerful, however. According to Conrad-Davis, it was also a lot of fun. “We enjoyed breakfast with our fellow walkers, met adorable dogs, and even [met] a Graceland alum! The walk itself was so pleasant with such a fun group of Graceland women. Not to mention the workout! Oh, the buns!”