KSBW.com, November 20, 2015

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. —Hundreds trekked through the rain and wind to raise awareness for mental illness out at Lover’s Point Saturday morning. AIM for Mental Health hosted the event as a fundraiser to find better treatments and cures for kids’ mental health disorders.

“I am so passionate about this charity. I understand how important it is in our society today right now,” event organizer Richard Stilwell said.

Stilwell is a senior at Carmel High School. He and his mom founded the organization AIM for Mental Health, which focuses on raising awareness about mental illness in young people.

Stilwell hopes that through events like the 2-mile walk at Lover’s Point, the Monterey Peninsula community can break down the barriers that keep people from talking about mental illness.

“It’s hard for a community to kind of acknowledge that everyday people have these disorders and are going through these types of things,” Stilwell said. People could hear from a doctor at Natividad Medical Center who was able to talk through some of the challenges that can halt research in that area.

For the large group of volunteers who supported the event, getting the word out and breaking through the stigma is opening up a dialogue. “I know a lot of people personally who have a lot of mental health issues and every time I see, I do whatever I can do to help,” volunteer Rostin Ahmadi said.

Even despite the on-and-off windy and rainy weather, hundreds of people came to participate in the walk. “People pushed past the good weather to be here and turned out in droves. We had no idea we would get this many people coming and is pretty torrential this morning,” volunteer Robin Littlefield said.

Organizers don’t have a total for how much money they raised this year, but since its founding about a year ago, the group has raised nearly $1 million to fund research. To learn more about the organization, visit their website.