We came, we saw, we Stomped — and we were even on the T-shirt!
Bellingham's Bloedel Donovan Park was the place to be on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.
It was NAMI Whatcom's 8th annual Stigma Stomp, and if you were with us at the starting line that morning, you know it was a perfect fall day.
There were leaves on the ground, the sun was shining and a huge crowd of people (and plenty of dogs) were ready to run, walk and cheer on others as they moved their bodies for mental health awareness.
Cute But Crazy Socks was the main sponsor for the second year in a row, and we heard later from executive director Kim Sauter that this year's event raised about $13,000.
The funds raised by sponsors and participants help NAMI Whatcom provide all kinds of services to our community, like educational forums about different conditions and treatment options, crisis intervention training for law enforcement and the public, support groups for people living with mental health conditions and their families, plus a lot more — all offered for free.
To kick off the event, we heard short speeches from NAMI Whatcom board president Brian Estes and Bellingham City Council member Kristina Michele Martens.
Then we were off! Some participants got a running start, but our team of 11 held back for a leisurely and very enjoyable stroll along the 2.2 mile loop through Bloedel Donovan and Whatcom Falls Parks, peaceful neighborhoods and part of Bellingham's interurban trail. We even took a short break at a playground so our youngest teammate could do some climbing.
At the end of the event, we took home T-shirts with sponsors' logos on the back (including Cute But Crazy Socks!) and a cool Stigma Stomp illustration in front, as well as plenty of memories of the day. As executive director Sauter put it, "There is nothing as wonderful as a sunny fall day spent walking through Whatcom Falls Park with a bunch of mental health advocates."
One thing that makes this event so special is the chance to start conversations and build community with others who see mental illness the same way we do — who know it is not a shameful secret, but an important issue that affects everyone. Stigma is the enemy, because stigma results in many people suffering in silence and not getting the help they need.
Cute But Crazy Socks works to reduce mental health stigma through the crazy socks we sell. Along with donating 1% of all product sales to support mental health, we also set out to reclaim the word “crazy” and use it in a way that is positive, joyful and affirming.
We don't hide our crazy socks. We show them off, talk about them and give them to friends and family. Maybe this is also a lesson about mental health — because by bringing it into the open, sharing our personal struggles with each other and seeking support, we make the world a brighter, better place to be!
As always, we thank our customers for all your support, and we hope to see you at next year's Stomp!