Large crowd takes part in an­nual Jor­don’s Warr;or Walk

Mom Jodi ‘over­whelmed’ by re­sponse

The Casket - - Front Page - RICHARD MACKEN­ZIE richard­mac@the­cas­

A bril­liant sun and warm tem­per­a­tures wel­comed those tak­ing in the third an­nual Jor­don’s Warr;or Walk, on the af­ter­noon of Sept. 30.

Hosted by the Jor­don Myles Foun­da­tion (JMF) and held at Kep­poch Moun­tain, the walk, as de­scribed on the foun­da­tion’s Face­book page, is “held to re­mem­ber those warr;ors we have lost, and to raise aware­ness about men­tal health.”

Jodi Myles, the mother of Jor­don Myles who strug­gled with men­tal ill­ness and passed away in 2016, gave an emo­tional and poignant speech just prior to the walk­ers, a large con­tin­gent from all age groups, set­ting out on the trail.

“See­ing you all here, know­ing this is our third year for the walk and see­ing the growth tells me this; we all re­late some­how and we all want to do some­thing and here is the thing, most of us, my­self in­cluded, don’t re­ally know what to do,” Jodi said, her emo­tions rip­pling through her words.

“How do you end stigma and shame around men­tal health? How do we de­mand bet­ter care, ed­u­ca­tion, re­sources? I don’t know, but I do know I can’t, and I will not, just throw my hands up and say I can’t make a dif­fer­ence. So I sur­rounded my­self with a group of in­cred­i­ble peo­ple and, to­gether, we do a few things.”

One of the ma­jor things the foun­da­tion does is pro­vide You Mat­ter bags to folks ad­mit­ted to the men­tal health and ad­dic­tions


Jodi de­scribed the creation of the bags stem­ming from her bring­ing Jor­don food, a drink, a book, and other small, but nec­es­sary and mean­ing­ful items, dur­ing a time he was ad­mit­ted and placed in a stark ob­ser­va­tion room. She talked about the smile it brought to his face and the hug they shared at the mo­ment.

“We’ve do­nated al­most 700 bags since De­cem­ber 2016,” she told the walk par­tic­i­pants and oth­ers crowded around the lodge at the Kep­poch.

“The first Warr;or Walk funded the first sev­eral batches; we weren’t even the JMF then, but we haven’t stopped since. Ev­ery penny do­nated to­day will help those strug­gling. Most funds will go to­wards the You Mat­ter bags.

“It’s a lit­tle thing re­ally, a lit­tle light in a very dark room; but some­times, maybe, a lit­tle light is all you need to see things a lit­tle more clearly.”

Money raised dur­ing the day was through dona­tions and a silent auc­tion, as well as T-shirt sales.

In talk­ing to the Cas­ket just prior to the event get­ting un­der­way, Jodi said it’s def­i­nitely the big­gest ac­tiv­ity for the foun­da­tion.

“The foun­da­tion was ac­tu­ally cre­ated af­ter the first walk,” she said. “We said no regis­tra­tion for the first walk and we lit­er­ally did it just to raise aware­ness. We weren’t called any­thing at that point and then I had $3,000 in my drawer which I be­came re­spon­si­ble for, so we im­me­di­ately went to a bank and this was cre­ated.”

A cou­ple of months later, around Christ­mas time, the idea for the You Mat­ter bags came to her.

“They do make a dif­fer­ence,” she said, not­ing they’ve re­ceived a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back from pa­tients and their fam­i­lies.

Jodi talked about the Kep­poch set­ting as an ideal back­drop.

“That is ex­actly why we come here, for men­tal health,” she said. “It’s so good to get out­side yet, it’s so hard some­times when you’re feel­ing crappy. It’s so easy to say ‘oh, take a walk you’ll feel bet­ter’ but [it’s not that easy]. So, to­day, we get peo­ple out­doors and they’ll feel it … that is why we do it here.”

And the tim­ing? Just the way it worked out, Jodi ex­plained.

“Jor­don passed in Fe­bru­ary and friends of mine kind of put this seed in my mind, just to keep me go­ing, and we just de­cided let’s do it in the fall. Re­ally noth­ing sig­nif­i­cant about the date.

This is Sui­cide Aware­ness Month so, now, it does kind of co­in­cide with that, which is great.”

She ex­pressed grat­i­tude that well known mu­si­cian Tom Curry was on-hand for the event as Curry played songs on the deck of the lodge and pro­vided an ideal mu­si­cal back­drop to go along with the scenic one

“And I can’t be­lieve this is our third, to be hon­est with you, I’m over­whelmed,” she said, as cars

con­tin­ued to fill the park­ing lot.

Fi­nal mes­sage

Just be­fore the group started out on the well-groomed trail, Jodi left them with a fi­nal thought.

“Re­mem­ber as you walk the trail to­day, we’re not here to cel­e­brate death, we cel­e­brate love,” she said. “Grief is proof that love still ex­ists and this trail shows you that when you are help­ing peo­ple who are strug­gling, you’re help­ing peo­ple very much like your­self. Real peo­ple who have real lives and were loved beyond mea­sure. Whose deaths may have shocked us but for whom we say ‘no more.’

“Don’t hide, we all strug­gle, let’s sup­port one an­other.”

Richard Macken­zie

Walk­ers start out on the trail for the third an­nual Jor­don’s Warr;or Walk, Sept. 30, at Kep­poch Moun­tain.

Richard Macken­zie

Jodi Myles’ pow­er­ful words pro­vided plenty of in­spi­ra­tion for those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the third an­nual Jor­don’s Warr;or Walk, Sept. 30, at Kep­poch Moun­tain.

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