“THE SOLOIST” LOPEZ JOINS L.A. COUNTY NAMIWALKS FOR THE MINDS OF AMERICA AT
THIRD STREET PROMENADE, SANTA MONICA, OCT. 4
LOS ANGELES (Thu., Oct. 2, 2008) – Award winning author Steve Lopez who has written columns for the Los Angeles Times about individuals battling mental illness will be joining the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) and more than 4,000 anticipated walkers at the Fifth Annual National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walks for the Minds of America 5-K to be held at the Third Street Promenade (located between Santa Monica Blvd. and Arizona Ave.) in Santa Monica on Sat., Oct. 4 (8 a.m.-12 noon).
At approximately 9:45 a.m., Lopez is scheduled to address the NAMI Walks participants, who will be carrying colorful banners and signs to raise awareness about mental illness, about his latest work entitled “The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music” which has been made into a major motion picture starring Academy Award winning actor Jamie Foxx (Nathaniel Anthony Ayers) and Robert Downey, Jr. (Lopez). The motion picture entitled “The Soloist: Life Has a Mind of its Own” is scheduled to be released by Dreamworks Pictures/Universal Pictures on Nov. 21.
“The Soloist” highlights the relationship between Lopez and Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a mentally ill homeless man living in downtown Los Angeles Skid Row. The columnist discovers that Ayers was at one time was an incredible prodigy who attended Julliard School of Music in New York City, one of the world’s most prestigious performing arts conservatories. Due his bouts with schizophrenia, Ayers is unable to graduate and spirals into a deep depression that lands him on the streets in the “City of the Angels.” Determined to do “whatever it takes,” Lopez worked arduously in providing hope, wellness and recovery to Ayers, and experiences firsthand the ups and downs that friends and family members encounter when trying to help the mentally ill.
Along the way employees from DMH and mental health community, including Stella March of NAMI nicknamed “Stigmabuster” begins to mentor Lopez on what he has to do to help this chronically mentally ill homeless man. The goal of Lopez is to have Ayers perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall located in downtown Los Angeles.
In addition to his appearance at the pre-race activities, Lopez is scheduled to sign copies of his just released paper-pack version of “The Soloist” at the Third Street Promenade’s Barnes & Noble Event Room (Second Floor) at approximately 10:30 a.m.
On-site registration for the Fifth Annual Los Angeles County NAMI Walks for the Minds of America 5-K will begin at 8 a.m. followed by the pre-walk activities at 9:30 a.m., and the walk starting at 10 a.m. There is no registration fee. Proceeds from the event will go to programs of education, research, and advocacy to those suffering from mental illness and their family members.
NAMI Walks for the Minds of America is a nationwide fundraising and mental health awareness program that is being held in over 70 communities throughout the United States.
Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Zev Yaroslavsky proclaimed Sat., Oct. 4 as “NAMI Walks for the Minds of America Day in Los Angeles County” at a special presentation during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 16.
Additional information is available at www.namiwalklac.org.
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