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Get ready to walk with members of the OCD Community across the nation this June and October at the One Million Steps for OCD event near you – including the International OCD Foundation’s flagship event on Saturday, June 11, in Boston. Find a walk and register today to begin embracing uncertainty, one step at a time!

In June and October, the International OCD Foundation and our nationwide Affiliates will host a series of “One Million Steps for OCD” walks that challenge stigma, raise funds, and create awareness about what it really means to have obsessive compulsive disorder! This much-loved annual event, sponsored by NOCD, brings together thousands of individuals in their local communities to share stories and honor those whose lives have been impacted by this mental health disorder.

This year, the Donnelly family of the Kitty’s Sunflowers team, will walk in honor of their wife and mother Kathleen Donnelly, who started participating in the OCD Walk back in 2015 after learning about the Walk from her doctor. Kathleen tragically passed away in a car accident in 2019, and her children, husband, friends, and family continue to walk in her honor for a cause that was so close to Kathleen’s heart. To learn more about the Donnelly family’s experience with the walk over the years, and why they continue to take part in this annual event, continue reading to the interview below: 

We saw that the Donnelly Family walked with us in October 2021—how did you first learn about One Million Steps for OCD? 

Our mom, Kathleen Donnelly, started doing the OCD walk in 2015 with her family. Our mom learned about One Million Steps for OCD from her doctor at Butler Hospital, in Rhode Island. When she passed away tragically in a car accident in 2019, her family walked in her honor since it was such an important cause that meant so much to her. 

What was it like to walk with so many other people from the OCD community?

Walking with so many other people from the OCD community showed us just how much OCD affects people differently, as well as their friends and family, who walk in support of their loved ones impacted by OCD and related disorders.

What does participating in the OCD Walk mean to you? Is there someone specific you walk for?

Kitty’s Sunflowers walks for Kathleen (Kitty) Donnelly, who passed away tragically in 2019. Ever since 2015 she had been participating in the walk with her family. Since she passed we created Kitty’s Sunflowers to walk in her memory. 

Our team joins together from all over the country to walk in our mom’s memory every year — to participate in the OCD walk means a lot to our family. We saw how much our mom suffered and worked so hard to get through each day with her symptoms. She started experiencing symptoms in 1988 when OCD wasn’t prevalent. When she participated in the walk it was a chance for her to “beat” OCD by completing the walk. 

How has participating in the OCD Walk impacted you or your loved ones? 

Participating in the OCD Walk has impacted our awareness of how big the OCD community is, and going to the walk for a few years we have learned different supports available to those who have OCD. It is such a special day for our family to be able to show support to our mom who suffered from OCD for many years. 

What do you hope others within your local community can take away from participating in the OCD Walk? 

We hope others within our local community can take away an increased awareness to those who suffer in silence. The OCD Walk is such a positive day for a mental illness that is so hard. At the walk, there is a chance to talk with others in the OCD community and learn about different supports. Kitty’s Sunflowers look forward to the OCD Walk in June in Boston.


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