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Walk to Help Mental Health Programs Set for Saturday

NAMIWalks to hold event in Fairfax County to raise money for cause.

The Northern Virginia affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is holding their annual NAMIWalk at the Fairfax County Government Center Saturday, Sept. 22. The event raises major funds every year for mental health programs in Northern Virginia.

This year’s event has a rock ‘n’ roll theme, and there will be music, food, balloons, a team T-shirt contest and lots of prizes.

Registration for the event begins Saturday at 9 a.m., and the 1.5-mile-long walk will start at 10 a.m. Participants are asked to register before the event, but registration will be permitted on Saturday as well. According to Laura Marcucci, the walk manager, there was, at last count, 258 people of all ages registered to walk on Saturday and a few dozen volunteers.

Each participant is encouraged to raise $100 through either an online fundraising Web site or by collecting cash or check donations. Walkers are also allowed to give donations the day of the walk and fundraise up to 60 days after the event. However, fundraising is not required to walk in the event.

“This Walk will allow NAMI Northern Virginia to continue improving the lives of thousands of individuals and families affected by mental illness,” said Marcucci in a recent email.

The event will also promote awareness of mental illness and encourage conversation that are centered on this topic, she said, noting that the walks also help reduce the stigma that prevents people from seeking help with these issues.

“Mental illness impacts all ages and backgrounds, and the NAMIWalk will bring together friends, family members, community leaders, local businesses and related organizations,” said Marcucci. “Lastly, all participants at the Walk will celebrate wellness, hope, empowerment and recovery.”

NAMI Northern Virginia serves Fairfax County, Arlington County, Loudoun County, the City of Alexandria and other cities and towns in Northern Virginia. This year, NAMI Prince William will also participate in the annual walk.

NAMI Northern Virginia has several local sponsors for the walk, including Kay Jennings Springfield Toyota, Dominion Hospital, Washington Lanehart Electric, Tysons Sport & Health and many others.

Marcucci said the Fairfax County Government Center was chosen for this year’s walk because it is a central location for the areas that NAMI Northern Virginia serves.

If people cannot participate in Saturday’s walk but are still interested in donating, Marcucci said they can visit the NAMI Northern Virginia  Web site or make write a check out to NAMI Northern Virginia and mail to NAMI Northern Virginia, P.O. Box 8693, Reston, VA 20195.

NAMI Northern Virginia also hosts many other events throughout the year to fund their mental health programs. The next big event after Saturday’s walk will be a comedy night and silent auction at the State Theater in Falls Church on Oct. 23.

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