Lace up your favorite sneakers and head over to Baker Park for the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Collier County Hope Shines Walk 2021 on January 30.
The nineteenth annual event, with a virtual option for participating this year, raises money for free support, education, awareness, and advocacy programs for 16,000 residents, and their families, affected by mental illness in Collier County. The walk, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., includes food and entertainment at Naples’ newest gem—the popular park along the Gordon River featuring facilities, paved paths, waterfront boardwalks, and public art.
NAMI’s signature luncheon typically raises $120,000, but it was canceled this year so event organizers hope the walk will close the funding gap. Mental health providers have noted that support programs and services have become even more critical since the start of the pandemic—which has significantly impacted mental wellbeing and substance abuse nationwide and forced clients into extended isolation.
One Neapolitan who is sure to be walking is Rosemary Pace. She had a walk team for 15 years, cumulatively raising more than $250,000, and still participates by walking solo each year. A longtime NAMI Collier supporter, she inspired her grandson, Henry, in New York, to choose NAMI Collier County as his mitzvah project for his November bar mitzvah. He raised more than $3,000 to donate to the walk. “I can’t even tell you how much that means to me,” says Pace. “This is a lesson that what we do impacts children at the earliest of ages, and I’m probably most proud of that.”
Pace and other participants hope to inspire others in Collier County to join in and support this outdoor, socially distanced charity benefit designed to raise awareness of serious mental illness and fund outstretched arms to embrace it. For information, to donate, or to register a team, contact Kristin Long at 239-260-7300 or Kristin@namicollier.org.