Lorraine Bracco & 550 people raise $250,000 for Depression Research at Walk of Hope
On a bright and beautiful summer morning, more than 500 men, women and children — plus a few canine friends — gathered at the starting line of Hope for Depression Research Foundation’s (HDRF) third annual Walk of Hope + 5K Run to Defeat Depression on Sunday, August 5th in Southampton.
The high-energy crowd, which included CBS’s Blue Bloods star Lorraine Bracco, The Watermill Center’s Robert Wilson, and Jenny and John Paulson, set out at 9am to complete a tree-lined 5K course around Lake Agawam. The USA Track and Field-sanctioned event raised more than $250,000 for advanced depression research.
Speaking from the steps of the Southampton Cultural Center just before the starting gun, HDRF Founder and Chair Audrey Gruss said,“Depression is the number-one reason in the world for disability, and the leading cause of suicide. We want people to know there is help, and we need more research if we are going to turn the tide on depression and suicide in this country, so thank you all for coming out to support the cause today.”
Southampton Village Mayor Michael Irving helped kick-off the event and cut the ribbon at the starting line. “The Walk of Hope has gathered the entire community to raise awareness about depression,” he said, adding, “I am so proud to see such an enormous turn-out and outpouring of support from our Village!”
Hope was in abundant supply as everybody sported caps in HDRF’s signature sunshine yellow, along with t-shirts with a custom design by Robert Wilson. The competitive runners — 89 in all — burst through the starting line, followed by families and fun runners. Following the race, Audrey Gruss and her team presented medals for best times in various age categories. Travis Taylor won the best time in the Adult Male category, and Tara Farrell won best time in the Adult Female category. Mark Jacobello, age 13, won for best youth male, and Caroline Clagne, age 13, won for best youth female.
Gruss then presented awards to the top individual fundraisers Scott Snyder and Kim Heirston, and an award for Top Fundraising Team toArthur Dunnam and Roy Cohen, who named their team after their dog Oskar, who was in attendance.
This year, the Walk of Hope + 5K Run was heralded by the Week of Hope, a village-wide effort in Southampton to raise mental health awareness that started on July 26th, 2018. More than 90 stores in Southampton “turned yellow” by placing two-foot wide yellow statement balloons by their front door to symbolize hope and their commitment to changing the staggering statistics around depression.
The initiative came in the wake of the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, as well as local Sag Harbor resident and publicist Jeanine Pepler. Each shocking loss is a reminder that the suicide rate is rising in the U.S. and that depression is a national health epidemic. Every 12 minutes a person dies by suicide in the United States; depression is the leading cause.