NAMIWalks: Mental health awareness and fundraising event comes to Bakersfield

Isabel Enciso, Reporter

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) celebrated 17 years of NAMIWalks on Oct. 12 at Beach Park. NAMI is one of the nation’s largest grassroot mental health organization that is dedicated to helping millions of Americans who are affected by mental illness. NAMI help family members who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, and any other disorders and illnesses. They rely on gifts and contributions from their community to keep supporting those with mental health.

The event started off with an opening statement from Danielle Kernkamp, 23ABC anchor.

“We are celebrating 17 years of NAMIWalks for mental awareness week. By helping the community with these walks, we help thousands of families with mental issues to get the support and information they need,” Kernkamp said.

Following right after was Mayor Karen Gon, who had been there to support those who were running and those who came to get more information on the event. Before the runners had to go to the starting line, they took 15 minutes to warm up with two Zumba teachers with upbeat music causing those around them to join as well.

Each activity had a time slot so there was enough time for the runners to get set up and be ready for the 5k walk, 3 laps, around the park area. As runners started to line up, many people made a tunnel to cheer them on and boost up their energy. Many took off in a full sprint, while others jogged with their babies in a stroller or walked with their children.

Those who weren’t running got to enjoy the Penche Dance Academy, showing a variety of different dances and dance moves. Not only was there music and entertainment for those waiting for the runners, but also different types booths taking place. Many booths that were there was the Family Justice Center, Kern County Probation Department, the firefighters of Kern, and many more.

Both the audience and booth were involved in the activities that had been provided, such as best themed booth, best team t-shirt, best costume, and best cute pet. There were crowds of people in different costumes such as, Star Wars characters, Incredibles, and other superheroes and characters for enjoyment.

Chief Robert Nevara of the Delano Police Department, along with the Kern County Probation Department, had talked about mental health and how to ask for help and support whenever you need it. Along with the announcement for the winners of the top team captain, best themed booth, beat team t-shirt, best costume, and cutest pet.