A group picture at the 21st annual ‘Hope Shines’ walk.

Hundreds help NAMI Collier County raise mental health awareness and support at 21st annual ‘Hope Shines’ walk 

Sunny skies and smiling faces were in abundance as the NAMI Collier County held its 21st annual mental health awareness walk, Hope Shines, on May 6 at Baker Park in Naples. The event included free food, fun, entertainment and inspiration. 

The annual walk promotes public awareness about the organization and the families it supports, as well as raises money to fund no-cost programs that help both children and adults navigate a mental health diagnosis. This year’s walk raised more than $35,000 and drew over 300 participants on a picture-perfect, late spring day. 

This year’s walk was also a celebration of NAMI Collier County’s recent move into a new home in the former Naples Senior Center building 5025 Castello Drive in Naples, consolidating all its programs and staff under one roof.  

The organization’s programs were previously held in several rented spaces, with the administration offices in a building on the other side of town.  

“Thank you for showing up — not just today, but every day you support NAMI Collier County and make a difference,” said local philanthropist and former NAMI Collier County board member Sandra Lee Buxton, who with her husband Reg served as the walk’s honorary grand marshals. “You are truly demonstrating love in action.” 

Other speakers at the event’s kickoff included 11-year-old Chloe Berkowitz, granddaughter of Rosemary Pace, a former NAMI Collier County board member who with a team of friends raised more than $250,000 over 15 years for the annual walk. 

Citing her own challenges with anxiety and OCD, Chloe first assembled a team for last year’s walk, raising more than $9,000 for the NAMI Collier County HUGS program for children. This year, Chloe designed personal baseball hats and pajama pants for the event and topped her fundraising goal of $15,000. 

The top participant by team size was the David Lawrence Center, which attracted nearly 80 employees and supporters to the event.  

NAMI Collier County programs include a statewide WarmLine for peer support; the Sarah Ann Life Skills & Support Center, where members may visit five days a week to engage in fitness, art therapy and support groups while learning life and jobs skills; Self-Directed Care; Peer Support programs, supportive housing, outreach, education and support groups. The HUGS (Health Under Guided Systems) program has System Navigators who provide community-based mental health screenings and early identification of Collier County children who have current, or potential for, developing behavioral health problems to connect them to resources. 

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