Whitney’s Walk For Life hopes to break stigma of mental illness

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. — Even if it doesn’t affect you, chances are someone you know lives with mental illness. To help those who suffer, Whitney’s Walk For Life is a local walk-a-thon that raises funds and awareness for local programs focused on mental health.

The 5k run takes off at 7:55 a.m. this Saturday, July 27th at Jubilee College State Park.

“It’s a really positive morning, considering it’s a really tough topic,” Holly Bill, assistant manager of the Hult Center For Healthy Living, said. “To see the sea of green go through Jubilee Park, it’s just incredible. I hope that you join us for that.”

Bill says knowing the signs of the different kinds of diagnoses can be a life saver.

“They don’t always recognize that something as simple as being down or being irritable can be a sign of depression,” she said, “and then it can lead to something worse like suicidal thoughts.”

The annual walk is in remembrance of Whitney Grotts, a high school student from Brimfield who committed suicide in 2004. The Peoria County Sheriff’s Department was involved with the case and Sheriff Brian Asbell says cases like these are tough, but we should talk about them.

“This topic is very personal to me. It’s something that has affected my own family, when I became sheriff, it was one of the first calls I took. A family member, where I had to give the most devastating news to my wife and in-laws,” Asbell said.

Sheriff Asbell hopes that people use this event to break the stigma around mental health.

“We still have a stigma associated to this. We can talk about heart disease, cancer, other illnesses, but if we talk about mental health, there’s sometimes this taboo associated with it that it shouldn’t be talked about in public,” Asbell said. “That’s what the purpose of this walk is.”

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