2018 TCS New York City Marathon Team

Learn more about our NAMI-NYC Runs Team.

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2018 TCS NYC Marathon Team Alex T

Alex

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Why do you run? Running is my stress relief, my life goal and my pride. I was able to run my first marathon at the age of 40 after a lifetime on the couch. Now it’s a healthy obsession, if an obsession can be healthy.

I believe sports, and especially such an easy one to master as running, can help prevent not only numerous medical conditions but also rejuvenate your mind and soul, and greatly improve your self-esteem.

Why does raising awareness of mental illness matter to you? The fast pace of the 21st century consumes more and more victims, whether it’s the usual suspects in the form of chronic mental disorders, or new giants such as self-injury by young children, mass shootings, and epidemics of substance abuse.

The public is aware of the problem, but is not informed of the challenges that our field is facing, or the tools that might be available for them.

Raising awareness is very important to me as a long-time soldiers of the US mental health field, employed as a psychiatrist for more than 20 years at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center.

Why did you choose to run for NAMI-NYC? To educate my colleagues, friends, and residents about your organization, and its mission and role in the life of our Big Apple community.

2018 TCS NYC Marathon Team Jackson Moran

Jackson

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Why do you run? I started running when I was a kid to be closer to my dad.  Now I run for a lot of reasons.  I run to stay fit, relieve stress and to spend time outside.  I run to unplug from the constant stream of noise coming from the news and technology, and to let my mind focus while I work through problems in my life.  I think running is as important for my mental health as it is for my physical health.

Running has been a great way to meet people who are different from me.  It’s a fantastic sport because anyone can do it.  You don’t need a lot of equipment and people can run for any reason that’s meaningful to them.  Looking back, I see now that a sense of community was always part of my life as a runner, from running with my dad to being a part of a team in high school to running with strangers in Brooklyn.

Why does raising awareness about mental illness matter to you? My brother has a brain disorder and has struggled with serious mental illness for much of his life.  He started having seizures when he was a teenager and then experienced a lot of complications around his illness.  For years I’ve watched him and my mom heroically fight for the care that he needs.  The time that passed while they were seeking appropriate care, as well as time spent in inappropriate treatment settings, caused more complications.  When I think about the obstacles to getting care for so many people living with mental illness, I get very angry.  We need to make sure everyone has access to the care that they need, but policies are not going to change until attitudes change.

We are so scared of having honest conversations about mental illness in our society.  And it’s sad, because we all have so much to gain from being honest about this stuff.  1 in 5 people will experience mental illness in their lifetimes, which means someone you know could be dealing with this right now.

Raising awareness is crucial because it will lead to change, but also because it will give people the sense that they are not alone and that there is hope.  We have to replace the belief that people living with mental illness are in some way damaged or scary.  They’re just people living their lives as best they can and they have every right to try to achieve their full potential.

Why did you choose to run for NAMI-NYC? I honestly believe that NAMI-NYC saves lives.  When my brother was first hospitalized, I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know how to help.  A friend recommended that I reach out to NAMI.  I called the number for the Helpline and was shocked there was someone on the other line talking to me, listening to my brother’s story, and offering information about programs and resources I could go to.  I don’t know where my family would be right now without NAMI.

I took the Family to Family course and met other people who wanted to help someone they loved.  It gave me a whole new way of thinking about what my brother was going through.  I learned some tools for being an advocate and I think I gained at least a slightly better sense of what my brother was experiencing.   It was a profound experience for me to hear parents and caregivers share stories about their loved ones.  I have the deepest respect for anyone who takes on the role of caregiver for someone dealing with an illness.  I also met other people who were siblings of someone living with mental illness.  Talking with them helped me put into words some of what I was feeling.

NAMI doesn’t just connect people to resources that they need.  It’s a constantly growing community for people who care about this issue.  I’m a big believer in the programs NAMI offers.  It’s doing the very difficult work of changing the way people think and talk about mental illness.

2018 TCS NYC Marathon Team Marni

Marni

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Why do you run? I should start by saying that I am not really a runner, but I constantly find myself inspired by others to run. I started running to raise funds for a charity honoring one of my friends, and when I finished that race it was clear that running for others is incredibly gratifying. Since that first race I have tried to find races that either support a charity I am personally involved in or that support an organization that I feel is doing important work. Having been involved with NAMI NYC and YPAB for the last seven years, when I found out that NAMI-NYC was going to be a charity partner with the NYC Marathon for the first time I knew I wanted to run for NAMI.

Why does raising awareness about mental illness matter to you? Raising awareness about mental illness is imperative to ending the stigma surrounding it. Both in a personal and professional capacity, I have seen first-hand how the lack of understanding has negatively impacted how people view mental illness and those living with mental illness and how the lack of conversation can leave people feeling isolated.

Why did you choose to run for NAMI-NYC? I choose to run for NAMI-NYC as a way of giving back to an organization that I feel has given me, my family and countless others an invaluable gift. When I run down the streets of New York City in November I want people to see my NAMI gear and be inspired to learn more about NAMI. Even more so, I want those who already know what NAMI is to see me and to know that I am running for them, for their friends, for their family members and for everyone whose life has been touched by mental illness.

Melissa

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Why do you run? I grew up watching my dad run, and when I was old enough, we ran together. He would talk the whole way through, and sometimes we’d bring along little cards with bible verses. He’d test his memory, reciting the verses aloud as I looked down at the card in my hand. Through labored breathing I’d correct or prompt him when his memory failed — he was usually more fit than me.

These days my dad doesn’t run much, but I still enjoy the simple and strange pleasure of doing something really difficult, watching my brain and body adapt and figure out how to keep up, and then collapsing at the end of it all: proud, tired, humbled…and tired.

And sometimes I think about running as a way to practice something that’s increasingly important to me – a way to practice doing something my mind tells me I can’t do. This is my first marathon, and my mind has plenty of objections.

Why does raising awareness about mental illness matter to you? I work in a psychiatric hospital. People come in every day, and many of them turn out to be people I admire and care about deeply. I don’t understand all the reasons why mental illness is treated and talked about in a way that’s so different from other kinds of illness. What I do feel very familiar with is the cost of that difference. I see it and feel it everyday – in the way people suffer quietly, or silently, for far too long. In the way that people continue to feel shame after they have chosen to seek help, unable to shake the feeling that somehow all this must be their own fault. Raising awareness about mental illness is important to me because I think it’s part of the way we help people who are in pain recognize that they don’t have to be alone.

Why did you choose to run for NAMI-NYC? Running is always great, but getting to run for a good reason is better. Being on the NAMI-NYC team has invigorated my training and given me a new sense of commitment. And NAMI-NYC is an organization I’ve appreciated and utilized for many years. When I need to point someone towards support groups or education – I look here. There is no question it’s an invaluable presence in our community, and I’m honored to be someone who gets to represent the values of education, support and advocacy on November 4.

2018 TCS NYC Marathon Team Samantha M

Samantha

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Why do you run? For me, running is not only a way to stay active and healthy, but it is a privilege I am given each and every day. Of course, not every run is easy, but they are all opportunities for personal achievement and, more importantly, stress relief, no matter the distance or speed. Every run is worth it.

Why does raising awareness about mental illness matter to you? Mental illness affects everyone – whether that be personally or indirectly through family members, friends, coworkers, etc. making this a universal issue. And yet, this is still one of the most closeted and stigmatized diseases that is often brushed under the rug until it is too late. Raising awareness helps to start that conversation and let the millions of people struggling know that there is help available and they aren’t alone.

Why did you choose to run for NAMI-NYC? Even as someone only in their mid 20’s, I’ve seen many young people in my life struggle through mental illness and wanted to use this platform as a way to raise awareness and offer help. Most individuals suffering aren’t aware of the resources available to them, and I hope to be able to share that information, while also opening up the conversation that many of us are too afraid to have.

2018 TCS NYC Marathon Team_Sean

Sean

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Why do you run? I run for those who can’t. For those who want to go out and experience the world around them in one of the most natural and organic ways, by running. I run because it keeps me healthy, both physically and mentally. Running allows me to be in my own space, pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Why does raising awareness about mental illness matter to you? I have friends and family members who have struggled with mental health problems. I know parents who can no long hold their son. I know children who can no longer hug their mom or dad. I have struggled myself in one or another and I want to change that. I want to do more than be a bystander.

Why did you choose to run for NAMI-NYC? After a week of high profile suicides in the news, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to act, had to do something to make an impact. NAMI was the first thing that popped up and I immediately jumped at the chance of turning my lottery entry into something more. I couldn’t be a bystander any longer.