Hundreds participate in 3rd annual Walk-a-Mile

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Thursday at Marquette Commons, Pathways Community Mental Health hosted the Third Annual Walk-a-Mile in my shoes rally to eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness, in addition to educating the community on this matter.

"This is just really about celebrating the folks that we have in our community, and showing our support and making sure that they know that they are people out there that care,” said Pathways Clinical Supervisor Ashley Jenema.

A number of speakers came to the podium to share their battle with mental illness. One in particular describes this time as one of the darkest periods of her life.

"I've been going to therapy at Pathways for more than one year now, and my therapist nominated me to be one of the speakers today to share my story and my own personal struggles,” said Lorissa Juntti.

When Juntti should've been excited to walk across her high school's stage, she found herself battling with demons inside her head.

"I struggled with an addiction to medications, I was self-harming and I was struggling with an eating disorder, which all led up to a suicide attempt my senior year of high school,” she explained.

No one expected this behavior from her because she was very involved in high and graduated as the salutatorian of her class.

Yet, after her own personal experience, Juntti wants people to know mental illness doesn't discriminate.

"I feel like a lot of my teachers overlooked it because it was so well-hidden and I don't blame them at all, and that's why I want to be here to show that there's so much more underlying issues, a lot of the times,” said Juntti.

Event organizers want people to feel support not only from Juntti's story but from the community as well.

"I think the best thing for us is to actually see all the faces of our clients,” said event chair Brenda Stacey. “We see people one-on-one, we see people in small groups, but today we're going to see all the people we serve. It's kind of like a family reunion, that's what it feels like."

The motivational speaker hopes to serve as an inspiration for others battling with mental health. In the meantime, she will continue going to therapy until she completes her race.