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Why are you walking for OCD? In today’s blog entry, OCD advocate and IOCDF supporter Margaret Sisson answers that question and shares her story about joining the #1Million4OCD movement in memory of her late son, Riley Sisson. Thank you to Margaret for opening up about her journey and translating her passion into what’s sure to be an excellent inaugural Walk in Atlanta on Saturday.

Atlanta LogoMy name is Margaret Sisson, and I am the Walk Co-Chair for the inaugural 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been involved with the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) and OCD Georgia (an affiliate of the IOCDF) for a few years. Since the walk began in Boston in 2013, I have wanted to create our own walk down here in Atlanta. I am so excited about this year’s Walk and what it will do to help increase awareness about OCD and related disorders in Atlanta! This Walk is very important to me because of my passion and dedication for helping others who suffer with OCD. But last year, my reason for bringing the Walk to Atlanta became an even more personal mission for me.

RileyIt has been nine months since I lost my only son Riley to an accidental overdose on September 1, 2014. Riley suffered from severe OCD and addiction. Long before Riley’s death, however, I became an advocate for people living with OCD. My passion was motivated as a mother who would do anything to help her son. I watched Riley’s suffering and knew there were so many others who were struggling — others just like him. I became determined to educate myself about OCD and develop a better understating about mental health disorders. I wanted to help Riley and everyone else affected by this disorder. Riley was also an energetic advocate for the OCD community. Despite his own struggles, he was always reaching out to others and leading the way to help people who were also struggling.

To me, the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk is a symbol of a strong community of people who want to help those who are struggling with this devastating disease. On June 6, 2015, I will be walking to honor Riley. I am also walking to raise awareness about OCD and related disorders so that others may also gain a better understanding about mental health issues.

Denis Asselin — whose family’s own journey was the inspiration behind the first 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Boston— sent me a note last fall, shortly after I received the IOCDF Hero Award at the 2014 Annual OCD Conference. The note contained this quote, which means so much to me:

“No doubt, like me, you feel as if the work still remains undone, and indeed there is so much more for us to do. Yes! Yes! But don’t forget to look how far we have walked the arduous path in spreading awareness about these cruel brain disorders. We can’t do much separately, but we certainly can do much more together. May you bathe in the acolytes and tributes sung to you tonight. Be grateful for what is, and let the recognition fuel your energy and commitment to stay the course.”

We have many more steps to take in helping to educate others about OCD and related disorders. Please join me on June 6th in Boston, Sacramento, Atlanta, or in your own community – let’s walk together as part of #1Million4OCD.

To learn more about the Walks, or to join or donate, please visit www.iocdf.org/walk.

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