Last week saw an evening of awareness and a celebration of those who tirelessly fight discrimination against mental illness, as Darryl "DMC" McDaniels — founder of Run DMC and mental health advocate — hosted the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City’s (NAMI-NYC Metro) annual “Seeds of Hope” gala in New York City.

Darryl DMC McDaniels Hosts Seeds Of Hope Gala
Darryl DMC McDaniels Hosts Seeds Of Hope Gala

Approximately 400 supporters were in attendance, which outnumbered the organization’s previous events to date, and a record $410k was raised for the many programs of NAMI-NYC Metro including its four multi-week education courses, peer-to-peer support groups, and public education events that help thousands of New York City residents each year.

McDaniels told the crowd that it was depression that nearly cost him his life by suicide until he sought treatment through therapy. He added, “While I didn’t mean this to rhyme, I mean it when I say ‘if you remove the guilt and shame, you remove the pain.’”

Jaclyn Stapp, mental health advocate and wife of Grammy Award Winner Scott Stapp received the #IWILLLISTEN Catalyst for Change Award for her work to spread awareness and understanding about mental illness and her commitment to reduce stigma and lead others by encouraging them to seek care. Also honored at the gala were Kenneth Dolan-Del Vecchio, Vice-President of Health and Wellness at Prudential Financial, and Karen Alvarez who received The Adele Anshien Volunteer of the Year award.

Ms. Stapp gave heartfelt remarks about the difficult time that her family went through publicly when her husband Scott was diagnosed with a mental illness after years of suffering. “I stand here before you today because of the incredible support I received from my family who were willing to listen to my story and my family’s story and help us through this journey. Now I am paying it forward and I cannot think of a better way to do so than to be an advocate of NAMI’s I Will Listen campaign.”

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