The Wood River Valley chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness will spread awareness about mental-health conditions at its third annual Swing Fore Recovery 5B Open on Friday, Sept. 21. The event is an opportunity to participate in a golf tournament with a fee that goes toward an inspiring cause. It coincides with Suicide Prevention Month in September.
Teams can play in a scramble format and compete for prizes for best overall score, best hole and other competitions. Christina Cernansky, executive director of NAMI-Wood River Valley, said that three years ago, the organization wanted to hold a fundraiser that would help people become more involved in mental-health and suicide awareness.
“We started the topic of suicide prevention, which of course involves mental-health challenges,” she said. “For far too long, we have swept these conversations under the rug, and we need to shed light on it and honor those we’ve lost and honor those who are still here.”
After losing a friend to suicide, Cernansky said, she had to overcome her own adversities, but discovered NAMI when she moved to Idaho from Washington, D.C. Now she’s able to spread the love of the organization through educational and outreach programs, including the golf tournament.
“I’m excited to be part of such a great organization, to share that recovery is possible, and to allow people that are living in the shadows to know that we support them and they’re not alone,” she said. “We need to shed light on the amazing recovery stories that are in the Wood River Valley. And that’s the whole premise—to encourage people to know that we all go through our own ups and downs.”
Cernansky said anyone can sign up for the event. She expects to have a great turnout and for everyone to enjoy themselves with fresh air, competitions and raffle tickets.
“It’s a fun tournament,” she said. “We give out prizes for teams—women’s long drive, men’s long drive. We also have vacation raffles and we’re selling tickets around the community to bring awareness. We sell tickets every year at the farmers market. So we’re bringing awareness and shedding light on our programs, and we’re going to pull the raffle that evening [of the event].”
One of the sponsors for Swing Fore Recovery is Idaho Lumber & Ace Hardware. Business owner Todd Hunter said he’s proud to help out and is thankful for what NAMI’s been doing to spread awareness.
“We’re just always curious to what they’re doing,” he said. “Christina does an awesome job and I probably wouldn’t have been aware of the organization if it wasn’t for what she brought.”
Considering that mental health is not always obvious, Hunter said it’s important for others to learn how to understand and be compassionate about it.
“We feel like there’s no real mental condition that’s normal,” he said. “We see varying degrees of mental health, and we know in our small hardware store we see some of those issues and like to know how we can passionately deal with some of those things for other people.”
Check-in for the tournament starts at noon. Shotgun is at 1 p.m. The reception is from 5-7 p.m. Shotgun is $500 for a foursome and $125 for an individual golfer. The reception is $50. For more information, visit nami-wrv.org.