On Saturday, April 12, more than 350 Fountain House community members, supporters, and friends gathered in Riverside Park for the 1st annual Fountain House 1 in 4 5K. The run/walk was a celebration of our wellness efforts, a chance to challenge mental health stigma, and a tool to raise public awareness about the prevalence of mental health disorders.
My pride in the Fountain House community overflowed this past weekend at our first ever Fountain House '1 in 4' 5k run/walk. We couldn't have hoped for a more perfect day in Riverside Park, and there were over 350 participants including staff, members, donors, board members, friends, family, and other supporters. A sea of people were decked out in their Fountain House gear and buzzed with excitement around the starting line. It was incredible to witness the power that our community holds when we join together to raise awareness for mental health issues.
The initial idea to hold this event stemmed from our increasingly large Fountain House representation at the last few NAMI Walks. We knew that it was time for our community to pursue its own 5k run/walk event to further celebrate and encourage the Fountain House community on the path to mental and physical health. We see the '1 in 4' 5K as the next big step for us to reverse the terrible trend of early death among our members and others living with serious mental illness.
I must say that for our first attempt at an event like this, and with only a month and a half to plan, our expectations were far surpassed. Our success is a direct result of the tremendous amount of support and help that was displayed by the entire Fountain House community. And for that I say a big “THANK YOU!” I can't wait for next year when the 5K will be even bigger and better! See you all at the starting line!
The ‘1 in 4’ 5k was well attended by staff, members, family, friends, donors, and various other supporters of both Fountain House and the larger mental health community. Since we received fairly short notice of our date and course, I was amazed at how organized and well-thought out everything was. The run/walk began at 10:00 AM after two great speeches by both Kenn Dudek and me. I believe that the walk itself truly represented some of the best ideals of Fountain House. The entire feeling surrounding the event was one of encouragement and self-help, as well as the companionship of one’s peers. There were so many examples of both members and staff encouraging others to do their best, even if that best for some was a slow walk. This was a true example of Fountain House – encouraging everyone to go as far as they can! This is one reason that I will always consider Fountain House an ongoing part of my life.
Since the wellness initiative began at Fountain House, the conversation with regard to health and wellness has changed dramatically. People are taking their health seriously; they are eating better and exercising in our gym and the YMCA, where we have slots for 50 members. The 1 in 4 5k was part of this initiative. When I showed up at Riverside Park on a beautiful Saturday morning, I was blown away by the fervor and positivity that filled the air. Everyone was proud to be a part of this amazing event. The sea of white t-shirts amidst the backdrop of the Hudson River was breathtaking. After speeches by Kenn Dudek and Robert Smith, the race started. Some people ran their hearts out, while others took in the beauty of the environment and strolled with baby carriages and dogs. It was definitely a family event in all aspects of the word. I felt part of something special, unique and emotional. Times have changed. No longer are people sitting smoking with their hearts defeated, shrouded with hopelessness. Instead, members are filled with hope and a desire to take their lives in their own hands and make changes for the better. I was so proud of each and every person who participated and I can’t wait for next year. Remember – wellness works!
The Horticulture Team
We have been in training for weeks for the 5K run for Fountain House. There has been buzzing, giggles, and cold sweat as we, in our own ways, prepared for this special event. Many who had health issues couldn’t actually participate, but they were with us in spirit and helped with our units sign. Kinga, Dorothy, Elaine and Marie helped put together our logo.
Some of our members started at Fountain House, while others started up at 110th Street. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful morning – the weather was perfect. The group was ready and excited. There were water tables and portable toilets along the way. Our fearless leader was Jessica! She blazed the trail ahead of us and we followed in her wake. Shouts, cheers and “yippees” colored our path. Our team was mostly walkers, but the day was so bright and colorful we didn’t care. We were out for Fountain House and for ourselves. Dusty, sweaty, and full of smiles, we challenged each other. On the way to the BBQ back at Fountain House, Robin C. proudly carried our festive banner the whole way. The Horticulture team was in full bloom and sat down to a delicious meal in Culinary. It was an event not to be missed.
Unfortunately, I am not a runner anymore, but I do like to power walk whenever I can. So when I heard about the Fountain House ‘1 in 4’ 5K race in Riverside Park last Saturday, I jumped at the chance to sign up. I always go to the NAMI 5K walk over the Brooklyn Bridge in May, so I was very excited when I heard Fountain House was hosting this spectacular event for the first time. The fact that NY1 and other news agencies were covering this event made it even more exciting. What I enjoyed most about the event was that I got the chance to mingle with members, staff, and family members and friends that I had not seen in a long time. The fact that I actually finished (not last!) was even more amazing to me. When all is said and done, I feel the race was quite an adventure, and I am truly looking forward to the Fountain House ‘1 in 4’ 5K race again next year. Oh, and the BBQ afterwards at the clubhouse was sensational.
My experience at the ‘4 in 1’ 5K Walk/Run was almost indescribable, but I’ll give it a shot. I woke up extra early, at least for me, so that I wouldn’t be late for registration at Riverside Park. Registration started at 9:00 AM. I checked in and they gave me a t-shirt. This was one of the better t-shirts that I received at a FH-related event. I purchased a large bottle of Smart Water to keep myself hydrated and full of electrolytes. I decided not to eat anything for breakfast because I didn’t want to make myself sick. The night before, however, I ate a big dinner loaded with carbohydrates.
I arrived thinking that I would run as much of the 5K as possible. I also honestly thought that I wouldn’t make it more than a couple of blocks, but to my surprise I kept running and running. I slowed down when I got tired. I even walked a bit, but I never stopped moving. I’m pretty sure that I ran about 80% of the race. Not bad for someone about to turn 53 and who had 3 heart attacks back-to-back at the end of 2013.
After the race, I felt good about myself. I haven’t participated in a run like this since about 1982. I was a long distance runner in high school. I had aspirations of running in the Olympics. However, I started smoking cigarettes around that time and that unfortunately took precedence over running. I also had my first psychiatric hospitalization the following year. The good news for me today is that I finally quit smoking and haven’t had one puff of a cigarette in almost 6 years. So that helped with the race. I figured I might be winded after the run, but I wasn’t at all; However, I did have to walk around to keep my legs from cramping.
At Fountain House, they served BBQ chicken with pasta salad and Portobello mushrooms with roasted vegetables for lunch. It was very delicious. I give thanks to all the staff and members who helped get the meal out on time. All in all I had a very pleasant experience and I plan on participating in the next one. Thanks to all the people who participated. Let’s make the next one even greater.
Anna L. and Richard N.
So we were asked to do the BBQ for the ‘1 in 4’ 5K Walk/Run after-event party at Fountain House, and I accepted with a big “hell yeah!” It went very well. We recruited some great help. In the early morning, we had Laveenya Ford, Deb Standard and Stan (the security guard) helping. At 10:00 AM we got the grill going. Laveenya started with the Portobello mushrooms, and then we started barbecuing the chicken. Debra and I got the Culinary Unit organized. We got more help from Izzy, Hector Rivera, Cheryl Thomas, Alan Finkelstein, Beth Stubenbord, Anna López de Zayas, Alex Emerling, Jennifer Rivera and many more members and staff. The food was prepared by the Wellness Center.
Let me tell you, it was awesome! Members and staff were raving about the food! The main dish was grilled BBQ chicken with roasted veggie pasta salad, and the vegetarian dish was Portobello mushrooms with roasted veggie pasta; both came with a fruit salad and lemonade. We took turns between grilling at the BBQ grill and mingling with both members and staff and talking about the 5K event. Many were happy about it and said that we should do more of this type of activity. DJ Merging (Michael Hamlin) from the Reception Unit provided upbeat music on the Van Am patio. Some danced to the beat, and some just took in the sun and ambience. It was a perfect day for walking, running and grilling. We should have more fun outdoor events like this!
I did it! The 5k was a major victory for me because I was able to walk with my new knee along with many other physical problems. I had to stop several times and lean against some trees. I even had to try to stretch out my legs from time to time. At one point Eldad joked with me as he passed by. I was so happy to see Eldad and Jamel’s children, along with the old Research team. I got to see Michelle and Melissa, and met several members from Fountain House Bronx. Socializing with those members was another victory for me. After the walk, I walked from Riverside Park to Columbus Avenue and met up with several members from Fountain House and Fountain House Bronx. This event was a triumph for Fountain House. I felt great after the walk. I came back to Fountain House, where there was music and a celebratory lunch. I went home and did some leg exercises and massaged my leg. The next day I woke up and my body felt great. I am so glad that I did it. Three cheers to all of us – we were all victorious!
I have been a very passionate mental health advocate since my arrival here at Fountain House over a decade ago. Unfortunately, due to a lot of issues, I have never participated in the walks sponsored by NAMI and other such organizations. It is with this same trepidation that I did not actually run/walk in this year’s inaugural 5K run/walk.
That being said, I am a member of the Fountain House family and wanted to be available to cheer on my fellow staff and members and their allies as they returned back to the main house after the run/walk. There was something quite uplifting about that whole experience. The weather was unusually warm and sunny, and everybody was in an upbeat mood. Seeing the enthusiasm on the participants’ faces as they entered Fountain House made me feel very proud to be a part of the community, and invigorated me to want to be able to walk sufficiently to participate in next year’s walk. I am looking forward to the 2015 5K, and know that it will be bigger and better than ever, attracting a larger population to help eradicate stigma.
To be a part of the ‘1 in 4’ 5K walk/run for Fountain House meant a lot to me. I have been a mental health advocate for four years now, and to participate in this event for mental health awareness was truly remarkable. I came across my worker, Frank Wong, during the walk. We talked as we followed the pre-determined route at Riverside Park in Manhattan. It was great to get some things off my chest while enjoying the beautiful warm and sunny weather outside. After the walk/run there was a time of reflection and pictures, and afterwards there was a free lunch at Fountain House. It was truly a day to remember.
Stanley S. (Fountain House Bronx)
I participated in the first ever Fountain House 5k walk/run! There were a lot of people at the event, and I had the opportunity to meet and chat with individuals I hadn’t met before. It felt really good to participate in the walk! Although I have arthritis and flat feet, which makes it difficult for me to walk, I was able to make it up those hills and complete the full course! People were taking a lot of pictures, and it was really nice to be there with my Fountain House Bronx crew! After the race, we walked to the train and went to Fountain House Manhattan. It was my first time there. It’s a very big place that looks peaceful and serene, but I still love my Fountain House Bronx! We ate, listened to some music, and spent time talking with friends on the patio. It was an enjoyable day and I’m really glad I took part! I’m proud to say I made it in the history books for the first ever Fountain House 5k!
I had a delightful time at the first annual Fountain House 5K! I got up early and ate a power smoothie to get myself energized for the race. It was so nice to walk into Riverside Park and see all the smiling faces of my Fountain House friends. After a quick stretch, we were off and jogging. Flanked by the amazing athletic powers of Laura Mitchell and Joe Schaffer, we tackled the harsh terrain of Riverside Park. Even when I wanted to quit, the smiles of the Fountain House members and staff kept me motivated. I hope we do this event each year because it's a great opportunity to get exercise as a community, to spread awareness of mental illness and to educate the public about how our program benefits members. Seeing our members getting active and excited about this event was inspiring!
I was thrilled to be with my fellow members of Fountain House. Most of the members I knew from my unit, Communication, but I recognized other members of Fountain House by their faces. It was good to see a large turnout of members. The weather was pleasant – there was a nice breeze – and Riverside Park was awesome. The race was very relaxing. The people running were in the front, but the majority of members, including myself, walked. The energy of the event was so down to earth. Members greeted each other with good feelings and love. I enjoyed watching members interact. I think we should have an event like this every six months.
Although it was the first time that we had an event of this magnitude, we had such a large turnout of members, staff, board members and Fountain House supporters. What I found was that many of the park-goers were intrigued by the 5k and wanted to know what was going on. This was a great way of introducing outsiders to Fountain House, reducing stigma, and advertising the great work that we do here.
It was great to see so many people come together to be active and raise awareness
about mental health. I enjoyed walking, talking to many people, and seeing the wonderful scenery. I’m really happy to see all the things that are part of FH’s Wellness initiative, since I strongly believe it’s important to lead a healthy and active life. I’m glad to see people using the FH gym, having healthy snacks from the Wellness cart, and participating in the many other healthy lifestyle groups that we offer. I look forward to participating in the FH 5K every year, and hope even more people get involved in these activities.
Fountain House’s 5K at Riverside Park was the place to be on Saturday, April 12, 2014. I am glad that I took the time to complete the course. My unit worker, Elana, introduced me to her foster dog, Jasmine. I saw many people, and the weekend was gloriously sunny and warm.
The 5k run was awesome. When people get together to work on something bigger than themselves they find happiness. I felt that happiness overwhelmingly. It left me on a cloud for days.
The first ever FH 5K was amazing! The turn-out was great and it was so much fun. My family loved participating with everyone from FH surrounding them and cheering everyone on. The perfect weather was matched only by everyone's enthusiasm. Can't wait to do it again next year and the year after.
I really enjoyed the race. A lot of people showed up, and it was a beautiful day. The people both ran and walked. Afterwards, at Fountain House, we had a barbecue. I had a wonderful time and hope to do it again next year.
I enjoyed myself and it was one of the best experiences of this year. I look forward to being a part of this every year that we have such an event. Participating in the 5K walk was very overwhelming because of the distance. Everyone joined in. There were a lot of us in the beginning, but we began to scatter as we started the walk. We made it to the finish line, and nothing bad happened to anyone, no injuries. It was an enjoyable day for everyone. They gave out fruit, water and a tote bag at the end. They also gave out t-shirts at the beginning. After the Run/Walk there was a BBQ at Fountain House that I attended. We all enjoyed ourselves at Fountain House's big event.
Dawn J. (Fountain House Bronx)
I had the opportunity to cheer the runners and walkers on, as some came in running/walking slowly, and some were running/walking fast. All of the participants seemed happy with themselves, as they drank water at the finish line.
Compiled by FH Weekly
Communication Unit, Fountain House