ORLANDO, Fla. – If you went out to eat for a cause during this year’s Magical Dining, part of the proceeds will help provide more support for mental health in schools.
Katie Donohue and Paula Kegelman share a common bond.
“We're a family, really that's what it comes down to," Kegelman said.
Both women are volunteers with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Orlando.
The grassroots group is focused on families impacted by mental illness.
Kegelman is the president of the board of directors for NAMI of Greater Orlando.
"Our loved ones don't always have a voice especially when they're in crisis, so as advocates and family members and caregivers and parents, we have to be their voice and advocate on their behalf," Kegelman said.
Kegelman was introduced to NAMI in 2006, after her son David was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
"And that hit us like a truck going 180 miles per hour head on, we did not know what to do or where to go for help,” Kegelman said.
She now leads a program called Family to Family that helps parents understand a new diagnosis.
Donohue leads a program at schools in Central Florida called “Ending the Silence,” in which she shares her personal struggle with depression.
“When I was in high school we never talked about mental health, not even in our health classes,” Donohue said.
She said the program offers hope to students dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts.
“To know that the Ending the Silence program exists - for me as a teenager, would have been life changing," Donohue said.
This year, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining donated a portion of the proceeds to NAMI of Greater Orlando. The donation will help to expand the Ending the Silence program to more schools to reach more students.