Editor’s note: Usually I am the one to compose the write-ups after our hikes – to share the photos taken, the funds raised, the awareness built, and the fun had. In this case, I cannot say it any better than the organizer of last weekend’s hike at Sam’s Point Preserve, NY, did in a recent Facebook post. Here is Karen Viola’s post:
Greetings, fellow organizers!
I thought I’d reflect a bit here on the Sam’s Point hike, this past Sunday October 11. I think it went very well, and am I ever thankful Phil [her husband] was there to help at the start with parking logistics and finding everyone while I was stuck on the longest, slowest bathroom line EVER. Note to self for future: holiday weekend + peak foliage + gorgeous day = CRAZY. Not to mention terrible traffic getting home.
However, the in-between adventure was amazing! We were blessed with blue skies, perfect temps, and, since it had rained Friday, more than a trickle at the beautiful Verkeerderkill Falls. A few surprise hikers made the total count 18. Plus Princess Rapunzel. And Terrence the Pig, who along with Connor fearlessly led our troop on the trail. It was such a joy having 2 small kids and 2 teenagers along.. still smiling at the end! The photos say the rest. I’ll post those shortly. [The photos are below in the gallery.]
I do want to share something else. Right before the weekend a work colleague of mine lost a relative to depression/suicide. And the day after the hike, an email came through with the news that one of my own relatives, a young student, was in the hospital. To keep her safe. Because of severe, treatment-resistant mental illness. Needless to say my feelings were all over the place as I browsed through all the glorious, colorful, joy-filled hike photos. But there we all were waving our orange bandanas.. and the reason why is as crystal-clear as that day we had at Sam’s point. We need more research, more funding, more focus, more advocacy, more open conversation. And I am proud to be a part of a group that is trying very hard to do more. People do survive mental illness. But it etches scars in our hearts, whether we were the victims or our loved-ones were. Scars like the fissures in the rocks we hiked on carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. We don’t ever forget this pain. But like those same rocks, we can stand tall, tell stories, and inspire others.
So hike on, friends! I am glad to be sharing the journey.
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude
The hikers, with their sponsors and supporters, raised almost $1,700 on this hike. 100% of that money will go to brain and behavior research and to trail conservancy.
We are also extremely appreciative of the staff at Sam’s Point Preserve and the New York State Park Service, especially the Sam’s Point Preserve Director Hank Alicandri and Minnewaska State Park Preserve Park Manager Eric Humphrey who worked with us to make the event possible.
We are so grateful to Karen, her husband Phil, all of the hikers, and their supporters who help us spread the word about the prevalence of mental illness and the need to overcome the stigma that too often keeps people from getting the help they need.
If you missed the hike this year…
I heard some talk of making the Sams Point hike an annual event, so if looking at the photo gallery below causes you to drool and feel bummed out that you missed it this year, keep an eye on our hike schedule for next year!
Other Great Photos
Click on a photo to see the full-size version.
Thanks to Brandon P. and Pat H. for posting many of these photos.