SIERRA VISTA — Dave Palmer was one of more than 200 people who gathered Saturday at Rothery Educational Center in Sierra Vista to march in support of mental health.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southeastern Arizona (SEAZ) held its ninth annual march Saturday morning to raise money for the free programs and services NAMI SEAZ provides people with mental illness. Services also are extended to the families of people diagnosed with mental illnesses.

“My team is the Stigma Stompers, and we’re marching to help people move toward recovery,” said Palmer, who has been a NAMI SEAZ member for about 16 years and serves as a peer support group facilitator for the nonprofit organization. “Our NAMI chapter has been a huge part of a lot of lives in this area and has benefited hundreds of people.”

The three-mile march drew people of all ages. Some walked in teams, while others as individuals.

Tracy Thompson, who works in human resources, is a NAMI intern out of the University of Arizona Sierra Vista campus and was one of the walkers.

“I’m walking in support of NAMI and the services they offer, and to advocate for anyone with a mental health condition,” she said.

Her 11-year-old son, Colin Thompson, walked with his mother in a show of support for NAMI’s cause..

George Broxton III, owner of local business Broxton’s Coffee, was selected as the event’s honorary chair for the support he has given NAMI.

“I was pleased to see the wonderful turnout we had here with all the people supporting this important event,” he said. “There needs to be more emphasis on mental health and we need to shed the stigma associated with mental illness. I think events like this and the support it’s receiving represent a step in the right direction.”

NAMI SEAZ Executive Director Kelly Norris said she is grateful for Saturday’s community support. Fifteen raffle baskets were donated from different people and organizations, giving the fundraiser a significant boost through ticket sales.

“We hope to raise $10,000 through this march,” Norris said. “We had a little over 200 participants on the march, and 10 vendors.”

Along with Cochise County, NAMI SEAZ serves Santa Cruz, Graham and Greenlee counties.

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