Fundraiser for National Alliance Against Mental Illness Walk in Lanesboro – ABC 6 News

(ABC 6 News) – In Lanesboro, Minn., community members marched and raised money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness on Saturday afternoon.

The organization, also known as NAMI, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, working to raise mental health awareness and provide resources to those struggling.

On Saturday, NAMI walk participants walked a mile to show their support and donate to the good cause.

Many family members and friends shared stories of loved ones and offered advice on how the community can support those suffering from mental illness.

“I think we need to start small, I think we need to lead with kindness and grace, act with compassion and treat each other gently,” said Evan Hansen, who attended the event. “I think now more than ever, we’ve all been through a tough time all over the world and I think we need to catch our breath and treat each other with some compassion.”

Hansen, from Rochester, attended the event and has worked alongside NAMI for a few years.

For Hansen, the cause touches close to home.

Related: Rochester Man Porters for Suicide Prevention

Having lost three of his friends to suicide, Hansen decided he had to do something about it. Using a canoe, he invited people, even strangers, to add the names of those they had lost to suicide on the canoe. Racking up 660 names, Hansen hauled the canoe 313 miles in 2021, in 35 days.

“I hoped the actions I took would help people feel loved, not alone, and not a burden,” Hansen said.

“I was hoping that if anyone saw a stranger carrying this for them that they would fully understand this and also realize that someone carrying a canoe 300 miles is what a burden looks like and not what someone sees in a mirror.”

The canoe is now a walking memorial.

For more information about NAMI and how to donate, Click here.

To visit Evan Hansen’s Facebook page, Portage for Purpose, Click here.

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