Three miles, that is all that stood in the way of myself, my family, and many of the participants in 27th annual Thad Alice Eure Walk/Run for Hope. Hosted once again in the Angus Barn parking lot, thousands of people gathered on a clear Sunday morning to not only honor those who lost the fight to mental illness but also to raise money for research in hopes that there will soon be cures for those who suffer from it today.
To first understand what this annual event is all about, you must first go back to its purpose. It all started in 1984 when former NC State Senator Thad Eure and his wife Alice began a nonprofit organization, which they called the Foundation of Hope. Their goal for this organization was to raise community awareness about mental illness and ultimately raise money for scientific research that would aid the communities understanding about mental illness. Then when Thad Eure passed away in 1988 the employees from his restaurants –Angus Barn and 42nd Street Oyster Bar– organized a twelve mile walk and ended raising $35,000, thus beginning what is now the annual Thad Alice Eure Walk/Run for Hope.
I personally walk for one of my closest childhood friends who has struggled with clinical depression –a lifetime lack of serotonin, serotonin being the chemical that regulates mood, social behavior, appetite, and sleep– from an early age. My friend –who will remain anonymous– has recently struggled with self harm, suicidal thoughts, and day to day hopelessness leading them to believe life has no purpose.
Like every year, this year’s event allowed participants to walk or run either a 5k, a 10k, or a one mile “family walk” around on the Angus Barn trail behind the parking lot; runners began at 8am and walkers began at 10 a.m. My family and I choose to participate in the 5k up Highway 70 and through Umstead State Park, enjoying multiple water stops, snack stops, and one live band playing plethora of feel good songs along the way.
“The best part of the walk for hope was standing at the top of one of the hill and seeing the thousands of people ahead all walking to support mental illness,” said Cecelia Marks, Leesville freshman and dear friend of someone struggling with clinical depression (the same person that I know).
Once participants finished their desired walk/run, they would then return to an overabundance of food provided by none other than the Angus Barn themselves. With options ranging from juicy pulled pork sandwiches to delicious potato salad, participants could then bring their food to a table and listen to the live music or just socialize and connect with those around them. It was a great way to wrap up a great walk with great people.
“The Walk for Hope is an important event because it not only raises funds for mental health and treatment but also raises awareness and works toward eliminating the stigma often associated with mental health,” said Amy Werner (my mom), who is longtime friends with the same person I know struggling with clinical depression.
With 3,500 in total attendance and over $450,000 in donations, it is safe to say that the Foundation of Hope was able to endure another successful year. And just like they have since 1984, 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the UNC Chapel Hill department of psychiatry in hopes of treating and eventually beating mental illness.