LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A big step for fighting mental illness in the Lake Area Saturday morning. More than 1,000 people came out for the 9th Annual NAMI Walk. The event, which raises awareness and money for the mentally ill in Southwest Louisiana, has evolved over the years to become one of the most popular and largest walks in Lake Charles. Represented in their brightly colored t-shirts, each team raises money for the walk, which helps NAMI fulfill its commitment to the mentally ill in the community.
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach presented Jadan Meaux with a special award for attending all of the walks since 2003.
"I've been a part of the NAMI Walk organization for nine or so years. My dad had bipolar disorder. I've been going for 9 years now. He passed away about 8 1/2 years ago. I've been doing it every year and I'm actually home from Afghanistan so it's good to get out here with my family and just go walk for a good cause," said Meaux.
"It's so heartwarming for me. It really brings tears to my eyes each year when I see the turnout. And everyone says what a wonderful time they have. And it's in the name of removing the stigma from mental illness. I have a son with mental illness and I know how important that is," said Clarice Raichel, NAMI SWLA Executive Director.
"We're having so much fun here. We had a lot of McNeese students show up, we had a lot of the community show up and everybody is having a blast. So we're hoping to raise all of the funds and the goal is $100,000 and we're really hoping we will meet this goal today," said Anistasia Armstrong, NAMI Walk Manager.
90 percent of the money raised will stay in the community to continue on-going projects through the next year.