The honor of Walk Grand Marshal is bestowed upon individuals who have made a significant commitment to helping members of the OCD and related disorder community, whether that be through their dedicated work as a treatment provider or as an advocate working to raise awareness. The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) is pleased to announce that we have several remarkable individuals who have been selected as Grand Marshals for the 2016 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walks in Boston, Atlanta, Oakland, and Houston!
In New England:
The IOCDF is pleased to announce that the 2016 Walk Grand Marshal is Massachusetts State Representative Liz Malia. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, Liz Malia represents the 11th Suffolk District, which consists of parts of Roxbury, Dorchester, Roslindale, and Jamaica Plain — the location of our Boston Walk! In the Legislature, she serves as Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. As Chair, Rep. Malia has led efforts to improve access to mental health and substance abuse services, especially in diverse communities. She received the 2014 Presidential Award from the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society and the Kathleen M. Scanlan Advocacy Award from the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling for her commitment to mental health issues. The IOCDF is honored to have Representative Malia as our 2016 Grand Marshal!
“I look forward to kicking off the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk that raises awareness and brings visibility to an often invisible and misunderstood mental health disorder. These types of community-building events are powerful and important because they allow folks to more deeply understand mental health conditions and help to dispel stereotypes, misconceptions, and any stigma associated with them,” said Rep. Malia.
If you are in the Boston area on Saturday, June 4th, come join Rep. Malia and the many other New England walkers at Jamaica Pond to walk for OCD and related disorders language awareness. To learn more and register, visit www.iocdf.org/WalkBoston.
The IOCDF and our OCD Georgia affiliate are honored to announce Michael Jenike, MD, is the Grand Marshal for the 2nd Annual 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Atlanta. Dr. Jenike is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, founder of the OCD Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, founder of the OCD Institute at McLean Hospital, a longtime board member and supporter of the IOCDF, and an outspoken advocate for people living with OCD.
“I am delighted to have been chosen as the grand marshal for the 2nd Annual 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Atlanta,” says Dr. Jenike. “The Walk is an ideal way to help create awareness while also raising money to support the work of the IOCDF and OCD Georgia. I am looking forward to being in Atlanta — so, if you’re in the area come join us.”
If you are in the Atlanta area on Saturday, June 4th, come join Dr. Jenike and members of the Atlanta OCD community to raise awareness for OCD and related disorders. To learn more and register, visit www.iocdf.org/WalkAtlanta.
In Northern California:
The IOCDF and our OCD SF Bay Area and OCD Sacramento affiliates are pleased to announce that the Grand Marshal for the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Oakland is Eric W. McClendon. While his OCD probably began in childhood, it took more than 20 years for Eric to be diagnosed with OCD, and another decade to find the right treatment. He has since become a strong advocate for OCD, along with anxiety and depression, three disorders he knows about first-hand. Eric is also a highly regarded amateur long distance runner who has completed over 30 marathons and half-marathons to date after running track for several years at the collegiate level. Eric is currently finishing his Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW), with a goal to give back by helping the large population of those with serious mental illness in San Francisco, especially those that cannot otherwise afford treatment. He hopes his achievements in recovery will be an inspiration to others suffering from mental illness.
“You know, some say that being afflicted with mental illness is a negative impact and detriment in today’s society,” says Eric.
“On the other hand, I believe that these three mental illness diagnoses are a gift that I will instead use to my advantage to pursue many dreams and goals, despite the negative influences caused from today’s stigma.”
We would like to invite those of you in Northern California to join Eric and the Bay Area and Sacramento OCD communities at the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Oakland on June 4th at Lake Merritt Park! To learn more and register, visit www.iocdf.org/WalkNorCal.
The IOCDF and our OCD Texas affiliate are pleased to announce the Grand Marshal for the inaugural 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Houston is Austin Vela. Austin is a Texas-based singer/songwriter and an outspoken advocate for OCD and related disorders. He has shared the stage and co-written music with stars from Switchfoot to Kelly Rowland and in 2016 was drafted for Season 10 of NBC’s The Voice where he gained national exposure. Austin is thrilled to be the grand marshal for the inaugural 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Houston, TX. The Austin Vela Band has a large local following in the Houston area and we are excited to have him as grand marshal at the first #1Million4OCD Walk in Houston!
“When I was in middle school, OCD consumed my life. I was placed in special education and was told that I would probably be on disability for the rest of my life. It’s life changing for me to have such an opportunity to touch so many lives by simply telling them my story,” says Austin.
“At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. It’s time to take a stand. It’s time to raise awareness about mental health (something not socially spoken of). It’s time to take a ‘disability’ and turn it into an ‘ability.’ It’s time for our world to know, it’s going to be okay even though it’s hard to rationalize at times. I would only be lying if I told you everyday is not a struggle. Let’s take a stand together!”
We invite those of you in Texas to join Austin and other members of the Texas OCD community on June 4, 2016 at Memorial Park for the inaugural 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Houston! For more information and to register, visit www.iocdf.org/WalkHouston.
Be your own Grand Marshal in your community!
Remember that if you can’t take part in the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walks in Boston, Oakland, Atlanta, or Houston, you can always start a Virtual Walk in your own community. Visit iocdf.org/VirtualWalk to learn more and create a Walk fundraising page for your team. Registering and creating a fundraising page is free! However, all Virtual Walkers who raise a minimum of $25 by Friday, May 6, 2016 will receive an official IOCDF Virtual Walk T-shirt in time for the Walk. Virtual Walk Team Captains who raise a minimum of $25 will also receive a Virtual Walk Kit for their team. The Virtual Walk Kit has everything you need to get your Walk started, including stickers for all of your local walkers, a pedometer to help you plan and track your route, and fliers (PDF) to help promote your Walk around town!
Just remember, you must register and donate or raise $25 by Friday, May 6, 2016 in order to receive your Walk T-shirt or Virtual Walk Kit by June 4th! We cannot guarantee T-shirts will arrive in time for walkers who register after that date.
Make sure to customize your Crowdrise fundraising page by adding photos and story, then share it far and wide with family and friends to let them know why you’re joining the mission to take 1 Million Steps 4 OCD and raise awareness for OCD and related disorders today!