Raising funds to help people coping with mental illness


Photo Provided to The Clarion

Students and staff from Madison College have participated in the walk for the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Jessica Deegan, News editor

Nursing student Tonia Weber recently participated in the walk for NAMI, a mental health center, in support of an individual suffering from substance abuse and another who recently committed suicide. Both individuals are held close to her heart.

NAMI, The National Alliance On Mental Illness, began in Madison when two mothers, who had sons with mental illnesses, spoke out. Currently, it is the only mental health center in the area that puts together a walk every year.

Nursing Instructor Sonja Noble has participated in this walk several times in the past, and thought that the nursing students could benefit greatly from the experience.

“Last year, I remember walking this beautiful walk around the lake and I thought, ‘Why do I not have students involved in this?’ It’s just a great organization. They provide a lot of education and support for families,” said Noble.

For 15 years, Noble has worked for Madison College as a Nursing Instructor and specializes in psych mental health. Previously, Noble worked at the UW Hospital as a psych nurse and did several referrals to NAMI.

Noble and Weber inspired individuals inside and outside the nursing department to support the fundraiser and walk for NAMI organization. Approximately nine students participated in the October walk, along with some family and friends who joined for encouragement.

Noble acted as a mentor throughout the fundraising and walking process and even prepared tie-dye t-shirt making supplies so that the team could have matching shirts. Even though anyone could join, they called themselves “Madison College Nursing.”

“It’s a nice way to get involved and raise money. One of the nice things about NAMI is that all of the money raised stays right here in Dane County and directly helps people in need,” said Noble. “Mental health services and resources are lacking, not only in our area, but also globally. We need to stand behind and support those that help our loved ones,” added Weber.

Creating a money goal was difficult since Noble didn’t know how many students would participate and how much they would raise. Noble explained, “We had a slow start at first, which is typical, but then we raised $2,130,” which exceeded their initial goal of $2,000.

Weber traveled to businesses and previous employers in hopes of getting donations, some of which she was successful in. With the help of Capital City Riders, Ultimate Arts Tattoo and a few others, Weber was able to raise $770 out of their group total.

NAMI has a mental health library with a vast amount of books available for people to check out and learn from. They also hold several support groups and offer brochures and pamphlets, in which the money raised will help with.

Noble understand that students are busy with school, work and families, so even just walking and not donating spreads the word and helps the organization.

In the future, Noble envisions and hopes the entire health building will partake in the NAMI walk and fundraiser. She thinks that it would be fun to challenge the dental assistants or respiratory therapists, for example, to see who could raise the most money. “If that goes well, we could say hey to the whole college,” said Noble.

While Noble was walking, two Madison College instructors asked if her team was also from the college. “It was probably because of our shirts with the wolf on the back,” laughed Noble. The instructors mentioned that it was just the two of them, but next year, they would love to join forces to make a bigger team.

“Don’t be afraid to get involved. One of the things that NAMI really stresses is ‘stigma free,’ because so many people don’t get mental health because they are afraid to admit that they are depressed, or that they are having voices in their head. Get involved and don’t be afraid. There are so many people in need, in all parts, not just in mental illness,” said Noble.

“Find a local charity, donate your time, raise money for a trusted organization that supports local people or research. There are ways to help out everyday… just find something that you enjoy and makes you smile. You never know when the tables will turn and you may be that person in need of a little extra help,” said Weber.