Saturday was the 8th Annual Walk for Recovery held in Russell Commons Park in Alton. NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) was the organization that sponsored the walk. This year they added a 5K run for Recovery to the event.
It was beautiful weather and the breeze off of the Mississippi River was just the right touch of fall.
I was proud to provide the llamas and alpacas for the event -- 4 llamas: Autumn, Punxsutawney, Pebbles and Valentina -- and 4 alpacas: Eileeen and Polka-Dot Patty, Punchau and Brook.
Random participants were able to walk the animals along the path in the park. There was a huge bridge that spanned some water, but the animals only hesitated for seconds before trekking over the bridge. The quiet, gentle souls of the animals brought a calming effect to all who participated in the walk.
I have been associated with NAMI for 8 years now. The young man who drew the "NAMI llama" shared the history of "how this came to be" with me and it was interesting listening to his own personal story -- and that of the "character" that would become his creation.
Llamas historically carry burdens -- and that is what families can do to help those struggling with mental illness. When you visit their website: www.namiswi.org you can read about the "connection" that has developed over the years.
The photos tell the tale of the walk -- groups of individuals forming teams to fight for recovery. My son, Ben, is shown with Valentina -- and one youngster even dressed as a llama -- the Dolly Llama -- to be exact. She was adorable.
Llamas posed for photos for a donation to NAMI of $5. It was a great way to raise more funds.
Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people -- especially when they are struggling with depression. NAMI can help -- and we are proud to be associated with such a "stand up" organization.