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Two Events with One Goal: Striking out the Stigma of Mental Illness

The Inspiring Hope Dinner and Journey to Wellness Symposium serve educational and fundraising purposes by providing professionals and philanthropists opportunities to make a difference.

Presented by Sunshine from Darkness September 8, 2021

Sunshine from Darkness, a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to the funding of mental health research and local mental health services and programs, is proud to present its 2021 Inspiring Hope Dinner and Journey to Wellness Symposium events on November 12 and 13. 

The Inspiring Hope Dinner, themed “Striking Out the Stigma of Mental Illness,” will recognize and feature legendary professional baseball star Darryl Strawberry and Steve Ford, actor and son of former President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford. Proceeds from the dinner will benefit First Step of Sarasota and The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. The event takes place on Friday, November 12, 6:30 p.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota (1111 Ritz-Carlton Dr.).

Darryl Strawberry played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball with both the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. His many accomplishments in the major leagues include four World Series titles and eight All-Star Game appearances. In 2004, he was nominated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 

In spite of his many successes on the field, Strawberry learned first-hand that depression doesn’t discriminate. People of all ages, genders, ethnicities, cultures and religions can suffer from depressive illnesses. More than 19 million American adults in the United States suffer from some type of depressive illness each year.

Strawberry’s story of childhood abuse, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction and, ultimately, his recovery, has inspired audiences across the nation.

Darryl Strawberry, keynote speaker

Steve Ford has 25 years of sobriety, recovering from a dual diagnosis of both addiction and depression. He has spoken to hundreds of groups with a transparent but hopeful message of recovery. He walks audiences through his own journey to recovery in an open manner, similar to his mother, Betty Ford. 

Steve Ford, keynote speaker

“In welcoming Daryl Strawberry and Steve Ford, we’re honored to present keynote speakers who can speak from the heart and first-hand experience about the challenges of mental illness and addiction,” said Sunshine from Darkness President Jeffrey Peterson. “Their shared wisdom will highlight an exciting evening dedicated to making a difference in the communities we serve.”

The Journey to Wellness Symposium will take place from 8:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the Sarasota Hyatt Regency (1000 Boulevard of the Arts). The event is free and open to the public. Three Continuing Education (CEU) credits will be available at no charge for LCSWs, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors.

The Symposium will feature a lineup of top-flight professionals. Speakers include: Jennifer Katzenstein, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, director of psychology and neuropsychology at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital; Joyce Carter, PsyD, LMHC, director of wellness at Resilient Retreat; Dr. Myrna Weissman, Diane Goldman Kemper Family Professor in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University; Eli Lebowitz, Ph.D., Director of the Program for Anxiety Disorders at the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center; and Dr. Michael Bloch, co-founder of the Pediatric Depression Clinic at the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center. The panel moderator is Andrea Blanch, Ph.D., consultant for the Here4Youth initiative of the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Andrea Blanch, Ph.D., panel moderator

“The ongoing effects of the pandemic, the negative impacts of social media, and other stressors have made this a difficult time for people of all ages but the impact on young people has been particularly acute,” said Peterson. “This event will provide some answers as well as suggest a way forward for those working to make a difference in young lives.”

For more information, tickets, and sponsorships, visit sunshinefromdarkness.org