Monday, October 28, 2013

The Best Weekend Wrap-Up Ever: Glenn Close, Bring Change 2 Mind and the Coolest Thing That Has Happened To Me

Let me just start by saying that I have enjoyed many blessings and wonderful times in my life, but this weekend was by far the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.  Cool on many levels... in terms of making a difference, of being part of something really big and special, of feeling a sense of reward, and also because I spent a decent amount of time with the absolutely amazing Glenn Close and her incredible sister Jessie.

Yes, as in the six-time Academy Award nominee and Tony, Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG award winning Actress who I have admired and adored most of my adult life. THAT Glenn Close.

Yup, that is her.

Before we move on - YAY!

Okay, superficials first.  She is really beautiful.  I mean, not a stitch of make up on and skin that is just flawless and glows.  She's really one of those timeless beauties.  More than that, she is seriously the nicest person.  Genuine, down-to-earth, caring, smart, well-spoken, charismatic, funny... and real.  I mean, most of the time I really forgot she was this huge, immensely talented Hollywood mega-star because she was just so natural and easy to talk to.  Her sister is absolutely adorable - funny, strong, inspiring and warm.  I adored Jessie.  

Now, that I'm done gushing you all may be asking what the heck were Glenn and Jessie Close doing in your little town of Who Cares, NJ?  That is the real story here!

My town is known for a few things - a winery, some antiques, peaches and apples, a pass-through to the beaches. If you live here, you can't ignore the growing presence of bikes and runners and pink triathlon suits.  An all-female triathlon club started in this town 4 years ago and it has propagated to about 800 members.  It is an amazing club and one I am proud to be a part of... not because I do triathlons because I do NOT, nor do I intend to.  There are many things I love about this club (including their incredible parties), one being their involvement in charity. 

They select a cause each year and raise both awareness and money through fundraising events. This year, their cause was to reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental illness. With my psychology background I thought I'd get involved in the "Cause Committee" and help with these events.  For the recipient of our fundraising, we selected a non-profit called "Bring Change 2 Mind," a national anti-stigma campaign co-founded by Glenn Close who has a personal connection with mental illness via her sister Jessie and nephew who both live with chronic mental illness.  

The experience has been immensely gratifying on so many levels.  Never in a million years did we think that Glenn and her sister would come out to our town and speak at our Awareness Workshop and kick off our first annual 5 and 10 mile race that raised funds for the cause.  

But they did.  And here's how it rolled. 

Saturday was our second educational workshop with Glenn and Jessie presenting along with a few member personal stories.  

I said a few words, but really the most powerful part of the evening were the courageous and strong ladies who spoke up and spoke out about their own lives and experiences.  They were nothing short of inspiring and incredible. 

Sunday was our big race - a 5 or 10 mile course that wound through the vineyards and farm roads of our town against the Fall backdrop.  Proceeds went to Bring Change 2 Mind. 

You could not have asked for a more beautiful  time of year to run.  Though, I have to say it was pretty bleepin' cold.  Of course, I was just standing around, not running. 

One of our club's founders presented Glenn with a check.

She said a few lovely words.

She sort of spontaneously joined this adorable girl in the singing of our national anthem.  Glenn has a really wonderful and trained voice... and this sweet young girl (whom I actually don't know but she's cute as a button) sang like an angel.  

Wow, what a surprise for her, huh?  

Then she started the race.

 Dr. Fabulous was there, running with a team from his own nonprofit.  You can see, even as he is standing in his starting corral, he just can't stop talking!  God only knows what he's explaining now. 

He was pleasantly surprised at coming in FIRST for his age group.  I'll call it the "old ass age group."  Actually, I'm in the "older ass age group" so I should be quiet right about now.  There are benefits to aging in the running world... less competition. 

No, but seriously, he did awesome. This was only his second 5-miler race ever in his life. The first one he ran with me, so obviously he was slow for that.  I'm really proud of him! 

So, I could go on for hours about this weekend.  So much fun, so cool.  Unforgettable. Unbelievable. 

Do me a favor?  Join me in taking the pledge to END THE STIGMA against mental illness.  Let's talk about it, not whisper. Let's end the shame and the blame and the discrimination.  Go to Bring Change 2 Mind to learn more and PLEASE watch their amazing Public Service Announcement HERE. It's only a minute and it's so worth it.  


Elizabeth said...

Well, I can't imagine a better, more inspiring person for Glenn Close to hang with than YOU! But it sounds like a terrific weekend, and I thank you for the links -- I'll be checking them out.

Claire said...

Oh cool!!!! What a great organization.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I organize a wellness fair at work, and had invited NAMI to come. Their table had many staff members "stop by" and I realized that many of us are "familiar" with someone our ourselves with a mental illness. I had thought even those who would benefit from their information would shy away, afraid of being questioned or judged by their peers, but I guess when they saw an opportunity, they took it. Great job and great organization to choose.

Kim said...

Wow, what an amazing weekend and a wonderful organization.

kario said...

Heading over there right now. I am all for ending shame about everything, but since my life has been touched by mental illness (hasn't everyone's?), this is an issue near and dear to my heart. What a fantastic weekend!

Tanya Savko said...

What an amazing experience! I had heard of Bring Change 2 Mind about a year ago and it made me love Glenn Close even more.

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