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When Penn State undergrad Livia Bodner set up a page to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, she put the goal at $100.
"I thought that was a stretch, but then I saw it hit $200, then almost $300," said Bodner, who's majoring in psychology at the university's Greater Allegheny campus in McKeesport. "We just want it to keep going."
Bodner serves as vice president of the campus' Psychological Association, or "Psych Club." This is the fourth five-kilometer NAMIWalk organized by McKeesport campus students.
Now through the end of October, donations toward the fundraiser can still be made via the NAMIWalks website.
NAMIWalks are held throughout the United States to benefit NAMI’s efforts to raise awareness of mental illness through support, education and advocacy efforts, and to fund NAMI chapters across the country.
“It felt really good to raise that much,” said Ke’ira Williams, president of the McKeesport campus' Psych Club. “It made me feel like there are people outside of our team that are watching what we are doing and [contributing in their own way].”
Doing the NAMIWalk makes her want to do more in the community, she said. “There were a lot of families there,” she said. “Think about it, if a kid asks their mom why they’re there walking, that conversation helps break down the stigma around mental illness.”
Elizabeth Mazur, associate professor of psychology and the club's adviser, said students are not just helping the community --- they're also making connections by being out in the community and being visible.
Bodner said the Psych Club is also planning to join the Middle School Mentor Program being organized by the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the McKeesport-based Consortium for Public Education and the United Way in local schools.
And the club is considering ways to reduce student stress on campus --- especially during finals week --- and inviting NAMI to campus for their “In Our Own Voice” presentation where speakers share their compelling stories of living with mental health challenges.
Editor's Note: This story was written entirely from a press release provided by Penn State Greater Allegheny campus.
Originally published October 11, 2017.