Last Sunday, the UNC Eating Disorders Program clinical and research team members walked amongst over 4,000 parents, children, siblings, and friends at the 24th Annual Walk for Hope, creating what appeared to be an ocean of blue flooding the streets of Raleigh. Cars honked and teenagers cheered as walkers joined together for one cause: to support those affected by mental illness and to raise money for prevention and treatment.
The event began with the national anthem and the release of six, white homing doves, freed into the sky to instill new hope in those suffering from mental illness that recovery and liberation from the disease are possible.
Walkers then embarked on a stroll that was nothing short of picturesque—the sky was clear, the sun beamed, and hearty green foliage bounded the streets. Smiling walkers appeared engaged in light-hearted conversation, and UNC team members chatted ardently about exciting upcoming research projects and treatment programs. Money raised from this annual walk has supported ongoing research on the genetics of eating disorders, including studies stemming from the Swedish Twin Registry and the Genetic Consortium for Anorexia Nervosa (GCAN), which includes collaborations between UNC and 16 other countries. Kelty Bailey, Instructor for the UNC XDS Program at the Wellness and Recovery Center, wrote, “It’s always feels great to raise money that comes directly back to my clinic and my colleagues’ labs.”
This year, the UNC Department of Psychiatry team broke its goal of raising over $6,500 for the Foundation of Hope. Raffle prizes and top fundraisers were celebrated and awarded with $75-$500 gift certificates and a 42’’ Television & Stereo Home Theatre system.
All participants were also rewarded with an array of delicious Angus Barn food, including hamburgers, vegetarian chili, cole slaw, and double chocolate chip cookies (yum!). Adults danced and sang along to live music, while children jumped jubilantly in inflatable bounce houses. Dr. Jennifer Richards, Medical Director of the UNC Eating Disorders inpatient unit is pictured left with her husband, Charles, and oldest daughter, Riley.
This event is definitely worth experiencing. If you missed it this year, you can still donate or join us next year at the 25th Annual Walk for Hope! Next year’s goal is to collectively raise a dollar for every one of the 13,500 steps we took on our 6 mile walk for hope this year!
The Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization raising money for mental illness research http://www.walkforhope.com.
2011 Picture Gallery: http://www.walkforhope.com/gallery.aspx
By: Dr. Cristin Runfola