Drums beat for Beautiful Minds
If music has the power to heal, there was some good medicine coming from Montana ExpoPark on Saturday afternoon.
The sixth annual Beautiful Minds Walk, a benefit for the Center for Mental Health designed to raise awareness for people affected by mental illness, kicked off this year's walk with a drum circle led by Missoula group the Drum Brothers. Group member Matthew Marsolek said more than 40 people probably joined in. Marsolek led the circle in what he described as a therapeutic experience for people from all walks of life.
"Group drumming is all about community," he said. "It really relaxes everybody regardless of their differences or their level."
A drum circle is a good environment to learn musical skills, but it also carries a lot of power beyond that.
"Learning is secondary to the sense of self-love and self-esteem that's generated," Marsolek said. "Once that's engendered on an individual, then you can learn something."
The drum circle went well with this year's theme: Music is Healing. Heidi Gibson, executive director of the Center for Mental Health Foundation, said each year's walk tries to shine a spotlight on a lot of forms of therapy for people facing mental health challenges. The walk, a two-lap circle that started at the Central Park area of the fairgrounds, is a way for everyone in the community to rally around mental health awareness, Gibson said.
"This really is something that everyone can do at some level," she said. "We really want to be inclusive and have people participate in any way they can."
The goal for this year's event was to register 750 people to walk, and Gibson said she was confident they met that goal.
This year's honorary chairs for the walk were members of the Dennis and Jan Conner family, who joined the walk a few years ago in memory of their son Michael. Michael Conner took his own life in 2006 after battling schizophrenia. J.R. Conner spoke about his brother's love for music and how it has helped their family move forward since his death.
"It's just a connection to my brother," Conner said. "It helps with our healing process."
Many walkers banded together in teams that raised funds for the center in the weeks leading up to the walk. One of those teams was the Tebow Maniacs, a group of the center's clients who stood out in their Denver Broncos jerseys.
Jon Hargett said it was his second year participating in the walk. A client of the center, Hargett said that the Beautiful Minds Walk helps people understand what others are going through.
"It's a good cause for people with issues and they can't help it," Hargett said.
The range of walkers at the event was an illustration of how many lives mental illness can affect. Some had battled it themselves. Some walked for family members who had fought the battle and lost.
Kathryn Lewis, a Great Falls resident, said she was walking for three friends of hers who lost children to suicide.
"I wanted to participate in something that I felt would allow people to have a conversation about mental health issues," she said.
Great Falls Tribune article 6/17/12
ABOVE: Jan and Dennis Conner participate in a drum circle at the annual Beautiful Minds Walk at Montana ExpoPark on Saturday. BELOW: Matthew Marsolek with the Drum Brothers leads the drum circle. TRIBUNE PHOTOS/LARRY BECKNER
Reach Tribune Staff Writer Kimball Bennion at 791-1462 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GFTrib_KBennion.
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BEST TEAM SPIRIT: The Dream Team (GF PACT)
BEST TEAM COSTUMES: The Dream Team (GF PACT)
BEST TEAM NAME: Humorous Healing
TEAM TRAVELING THE FARTHEST: Boise Girls
BEST PET COSTUME: Pumpkin Pup (Judy W's dog)
INDIVIDUAL RAISING MOST MONEY: Jan Conner
INDIVIDUAL WITH MOST PLEDGES: Dr. Angela Casmier
TEAM RAISING MOST MONEY: Team Cosmo
BMW RAFFLE WINNERS ANNOUNCED:
Electric Guitar: Rosemary Crowley (Helena)
Callaway Golf Bag: Shirley Cayko (Great Falls)
Snowboard: Jeanette Beagles (Great Falls)
Patio Heater: Trina Knoche (Great Falls)
50/50 WINNER: Brett Weinsch (Helena) donated back to C4MH for total of $419.00
KINDLE WINNER: Marie Stewart (NAMI Tamborine Team)
ANGEL AWARD: Conner Family & Greg Hall of Gold's Gym