- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 9, 2005

Thursday’s 25th anniversary celebration put on by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) was a family night in every way.

The larger “Washington family” was well represented — a Supreme Court justice (Stephen G. Breyer and his wife Joanna), a senator (Gordon H. Smith, Oregon Republican), several congressmen, (Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, among them), as well as many from the journalism fraternity led by the evening’s emcee, Margaret Warner of PBS.

Members and patrons of NAMI, founded by families of people suffering from severe forms of mental illness, contributed an estimated $300,000 for outreach and support services, including much-needed research into causes and treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.

“Unmasking Mental Illness” was the motto of the evening in the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium — bringing the subject out from behind the mask of ignorance — the first such fete ever held by Arlington-based NAMI in the national capital area. It was an upbeat affair in spite of the theme and its associations — inspired, as Miss Warner told those present, by a similar gala held in New Orleans not long ago. Masks on the tables, she said, “should remind people of New Orleans at its most joyful and colorful time — Mardi Gras.”

Television’s Mike Wallace, whom Miss Warner called “an icon,” said privately at the reception that he has suffered three bouts of depression, then hastened to add he is “not a professional depressive.” Mr. Wallace presented a $50,000 check and crystal bowl to Dr.Daniel Weinberger of the National Institute of Mental Health for his pioneering work in the brain and its functions, especially as they relate to abnormal behavior. “The next 25 years of research will make what we have done before seem minor,” Dr. Weinberger said in his acceptance remarks.

New Orleans’ songsmith Aaron Neville, an icon to many in the music world, performed at dinner with several songs reflecting his own physical and emotional battles.

“Everybody is touched by it,” said event co-chairwoman Ann Pincus, volunteering that she had a close relative so afflicted. Other supporters on hand included Vicki Bagley, Ann Jordan, Tom Oliphant, Debbie Dingell, co-chairwomanDeborah Marriott Harrison, Polly Kraft, Molly RaiserandMargaret Carlson.

— Ann Geracimos

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