Annual Benefit to Feature Olympic Figure Skater and Award Recipients

Journalist Shawne Wickham is the 2019 recipient of the Mental Health Center’s annual Wheelock-Nardi Advocacy Award.  Shawne has been telling the stories of Granite Staters for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News for more than 30 years. Her most recent assignment was a year-long, grant-funded project exploring solutions to the state’s mental health and substance use challenges. The series was called “Beyond the Stigma.”  Wickham reported on a number of initiatives to address the mental health needs of New Hampshire residents and to break down the stigma that prevents many from seeking and finding recovery.  She reported on the MHCGM’s “mental health first aid” trainings and attended one session geared toward the veterans’ community. She reported on the world’s first orchestra created by and for musicians with mental health challenges, and sat in on local auditions of “This is My Brave,” featuring the inspiring, first-hand stories of individuals who have found recovery from mental health challenges.  Shawne wrote about the human stories behind the headlines regarding the state’s mental health challenges, met with those who work tirelessly every day to make a difference, and offered evidence that there is hope, and healing. Ultimately, Wickham’s stories educated the public regarding the challenges and opportunities associated with mental illness and or substance misuse and also helped to provide a glimpse of the realities that many face in our communities.

Gossler Park Elementary School has been named as the 2019 recipient of the Community Leadership Award, which was established to recognize and honor business or community leaders who exemplify the leadership and commitment needed to build and support a caring community. Principal Lori Upham and Assistant Principal Mandi Tappin have been instrumental in implementing the “Leader in Me” program based on Stephen Covey’s “the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The Community Schools Projects allows Manchester city schools to serve as neighborhood hubs providing a wide range of social services and education supports for children and families. Gossler Park Elementary recently entered it’s 4th year in the “Leader in Me” program and was recently designated as a Lighthouse School, by FranklinCovey Company, the first school in the state of NH to receive such a recognition for meeting attendance, academic and teacher training goals. Leader in Me is an evidence-based program which has brought tangible changes to the elementary school not only for students and parents, but for teachers who were overwhelmed with students who exhibited signs of trauma such as; emotional, physical or sexual abuse, violence, household mental illness or more. Since implementing the program, the school has seen stronger academic progress, improvements in attendance and student behavior, and has seen a positive trend in student ability to make decisions and exhibit leadership qualities.

The featured speaker for the annual mental health benefit will be Olympic skater, Gracie Gold. After taking time away from the ice to undergo treatment for her mental illness and eating disorder, Gracie, an Olympic Bronze medalist and two-time U.S. Champion, is jumping back to the sport of elite level figure skating and is hoping her comeback and story will showcase her renewed spirit on and off the ice and help others.  At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, Gracie along with other members of Team USA, won the Olympic Bronze medal in the first-ever Team event. In the individual ladies’ competition, Gracie placed fourth, an impressive Olympic debut.  Coming off her successful season, Gracie earned the 2014 LA Sportswoman of the Year award.

In 2016, Gracie won her second U.S. Championship title in commanding fashion in a red dress with flames on her sleeves.  But later that year she experienced the devastation of her second consecutive time finishing just off the podium at a major international competition, the World Championship — which sent her into a tailspin that resulted into a bout of depression. Gracie entered treatment, took time away from skating, and focused on recovery but has since resumed training outside of Philadelphia with goals of competing at the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Her long-term goal is to return to the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

The Mental Health Dinner and Awards Benefit will be held on Monday, October 21 at The Derryfield Country Club from 5pm – 8:30pm. For more information or to register go to: Celebration