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Me (Rob) and my kids Hannah, Daniel and Rachel

By Rob Laitman
Runner, Father, Donor – Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Five years ago my son Daniel was diagnosed with schizophrenia and our lives were turned upside down. He was just starting his sophomore year of high school when he was diagnosed and was in and out of hospital day programs for much of that year. Over the next 2 years we would see many doctors and Daniel would be on many different medications. While he is now on a medical regimen that he is doing well on, and while he finished high school on time in a great program and is now in community college, we all long for the day when his disease will be cured, not just kept under control. He still has symptoms most days and has learned to live with them, but we would love for him to be free of “the voices”.

Last January, Daniel, Daniel’s sister Hannah, their cousin Joey, and myself ran the Disney World Half-Marathon together and raised almost $15,000 for the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.  That was just the beginning! On January 7,2012, we did it again.  We participated again in the Disney Half Marathon, and I ran the full marathon the next day. The weekend was great! Hannah, Daniel, Rachel and I finished the half marathon in about 2 hrs 37 minutes…..Rachel has not run for almost a year, but she finished! I completed the full marathon in 3 hours and 19 minutes, which is faster than I planned – I felt great!

We all know someone with a mental illness and we can all be part of the search to find better treatments and cures for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and eating disorders and the many other types of mental illness that are out there. I hope they never affect you, but chances are that one of them will touch you or someone you love. Help us to raise funds for research and you be part of the cure!

We aren’t finished! There are more marathons this year. Would you like to join us? Whether or not you are a runner, I would like to invite you to support Team Daniel and TeamUp!  Please share this blog link with family and friends, make a donation, or even better, join us in a run! (See our schedule below.) I am really hoping to recruit more Team members. What an inspiration it would be to see a sea of Team Daniel / BBRF tee shirts running in the marathon!

I personally offer to support runners up to $1000 if they raise at least $5000 for the Foundation.  I will do this up to 10 runners. 

For more information about joining Team Daniel please email my wife Ann or myself: Ann Laitman at anncmandel@aol.com or Robert Laitman at rslaitman@aol.com.

Team Daniel marathons in support of Brain & Behavior Research Foundation:
•    Boston Marathon, April 2012
•    New Jersey Marathon, May 2012
•    New York Marathon, November 2012

We are in the lottery for…
•    Chicago, Illinois
•    St. George, Utah

Please enjoy this video “Grateful” –  written and performed by my daughter Rachel Laitman:

By Dianne Ackerman, Associate Director of Communications and Public Relations, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

The recent suicide of professional hockey player Wade Belak is the latest in a string of sports tragedies—his death follows those of New York Rangers forward Derek Boogaard and Winnipeg Jets forward Rick Rypien. There have been many others over the years. Just last February, NFL Football player Dave Duerson of the Chicago Bears committed suicide. Duerson believed the answers would be found through research, and he decided to donate his brain to science before he died. It was found that he suffered from successive traumatic brain injuries that may have contributed to his deteriorating psychiatric state. Research has shown us that mental illness is often a combination of environment and genetic predisposition. Boston University’s recent study on retired athletes found that those who had had three or more concussions had a three-fold higher incidence of depression compared to players with fewer brain injuries. While these studies find so much in the physical, there is an important aspect that few are willing to expose: the devastating social stigma that comes with mental illness. This can be even crueler for men in our society than for women. We’ve created an environment where we idolize athletes, as well as men in general some argue, for being tough, resilient and infallible. Enforcing these stereotypes leaves no room for vulnerability, disclosure, or to do anything other than “tough it out.” Would any of these athletes be alive today had they disclosed their mental illness to an accepting society and received better treatment? An astounding 1 in 4 Americans—that equals 77 MILLION Americans—suffer a mental illness. There is no escaping the fact that this statistic reveals we are all personally affected in some way by mental illness. We have triumphed in overcoming what seemed in recent decades to be irreversible stigmas like cancer, HIV, and sexual orientation. It is time to overcome the stigma of mental illness. It is time to create change in our own circles and exchanges, and elevate this topic into the fore of our societal dialogue. We can celebrate the fact that breakthroughs are being made every day through research, and that science continues to illuminate the profound mysteries of the brain. Let’s join in our power to break the silence so that no one must suffer alone. Lives can and will be improved, and it all begins with our willingness to talk—and act.

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