The Rome chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness will host its annual candlelight ceremony on the Town Green on Oct. 6 as part of the national day of prayer for mental illness recovery and understanding.
NAMI president Bonnie Moore said they’ve been doing the service for 20 years as part of National Mental Illness Awareness Week.
They typically host the service in a local church, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, they decided to do it on the Town Green to accommodate for social distancing. Moore encourages attendees to wear masks.
One of the parts Moore is most excited about is speaker Jennifer Ayers Moore, the sister of Nathaniel Ayers, who was the inspiration behind the movie “The Soloist.” Ayers is a gifted musician who attended The Julliard School for double bass.
However, after he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, he dropped out of college and wound up homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. Journalist Steve Lopez met Ayers and ended up writing multiple columns and eventually a book about him. The film based on his book came out in 2009 and starred Jamie Foxx as Ayers and Robert Downey Jr. as Lopez.
Moore is now a mental health advocate and travels the country talking to different NAMI groups and other mental health organizations.
The Rome chapter president said she met Moore through NAMI and became good friends with her. During the candlelight service, Moore will talk about her experiences of having a family member with severe mental illness and to show people “there’s always hope.”
The service will conclude with attendees releasing seven lanterns, with names of loved ones written on them, into the sky. Local public safety officials and leaders in the faith community will also be present.