International OCD Foundation holds first ever walk for OCD Awareness in Boston on Saturday, June 8th, 2013

BOSTON, Mass. (June 3, 2013) — Hundreds of supporters of the International OCD Foundation are expected to turn out at Jamaica Pond on the morning of Saturday, June 8th, to raise awareness about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD. The walk was inspired by the tireless efforts of Denis Asselin, a father who went on a 2012 pilgrimage to raise awareness about OCD and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) after the loss of his young son to the disorder.

Denis Asselin made headlines last year while walking over 500 miles from his home in a Philadelphia suburb all the way to Boston. He was on a mission to transform his grief over the loss of his 24-year-old son Nathanial into something positive: advocacy for OCD and BDD. On June 7, 2012, Denis reached Boston, and was welcomed by the International OCD Foundation at an OCD & BDD Awareness Rally at Christopher Columbus Park. An emotional Denis thanked the crowd for their support, and remarked that while he had walked over a million steps on his journey from Cheyney, PA, to Boston, MA, there were still millions more to go towards raising awareness and understanding about OCD and BDD.

On June 8, 2013, exactly one year and one day later, the International OCD Foundation will gather the OCD community at Jamaica Pond in Boston to take millions more steps towards awareness. While people in the New England area gear up for Saturday’s walk, hundreds of supporters across the country will also be participating “virtually” by pledging to walk their own steps in support of OCD awareness. Already over 8.3 million steps have been pledged by virtual walkers.

“There are 3 to 4 million individuals with OCD in the US alone, yet it remains misunderstood by popular culture and often goes undiagnosed due to stigma and lack of information, like many mental disorders,” says Jeff Szymanski, PhD, executive director of the International OCD Foundation. “While this is our inaugural walk, we look forward to this event getting bigger year after year — the OCD community is hungry for a chance to be seen and be heard.”

As the Foundation prepares for Saturday’s big walk, Denis is again setting out on a pilgrimage for Nathaniel — this time walking south to Washington, DC, where he plans to meet with lawmakers to talk about the need for more support for mental health in the US. After his week on the Hill, Denis will travel to Boston where he will serve as Grand Marshal of the Walk at Jamaica Pond.

Denis will be joined at opening ceremonies by Dr. Sabine Wilhelm, Vice-Chair of the IOCDF Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board, Professor at the Harvard Medical School and Director of the OCD and Related Disorders Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital; and Dr. Katharine Phillips of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Program at Rhode Island Hospital, a pioneer in the research and treatment of BDD.

The walk is a family-friendly event, and is open to the public. Dogs on leashes are allowed. Onsite registration begins at 8am, with opening ceremonies at 9:30am and closing ceremonies at noon.

For more information, or to register online, please visit:

About the International OCD Foundation

The mission of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) is to help individuals with OCD to live full and productive lives.

The IOCDF is a donor-supported nonprofit organization. Founded in 1986 by a small group of individuals with OCD, the Foundation has grown into a international membership-based organization serving a broad community of individuals with OCD and related disorders, their family members and loved ones, and mental health professionals and researchers. The Foundation aims to improve outcomes for individuals with OCD and related disorders by:

  • Providing resources and support for those affected by OCD, including individuals with OCD and related disorders, their family members, friends, and loved ones.
  • Promoting awareness about OCD and related disorders to the OCD community and the general public.
  • Increasing access to effective treatment through:
    • Educating mental health professionals about evidence-based treatments.
    • Providing a forum for professional collaboration and networking.
    • Supporting research into the causes of and treatments for OCD and related disorders.