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Taking steps out of the shadows: Mishawaka walk raises mental illness awareness

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- It's a walk to change lives: giving courage to those hiding while struggling with mental illnesses. 

In Mishawaka Saturday afternoon, the first "Out of the Shadows" walk was held at Battell Park.

It was a walk in memory of Michelle Ellenberger, but it was also a walk to help prevent other families from losing loved ones because of mental illness.

"I made a point today of wearing these shoes. These were Michelle's shoes," says Kay Green, Ellenberger's mother. "I did this walk already, so she's already done this walk today."

It takes one step at a time, but always moving forward.

"We decided to have this walk and call it "Out of the Shadows," because we need to come out of the shadows and let people know this is a disease. It's nothing to be ashamed of," she adds. 

Green, and her husband, Larry, lost their daughter to mental illness a year ago, after a struggle she secretly endured before her death.

"We've taken a great tragedy in our family and we've made some good come out of it," explains Green. "That's what you have to do. You have to make some good come out if it."

The Lints family traveled to the walk from Elkhart for that very same reason: to remember and to change the way people view mental illness.

"There's just a stigma that shouldn't be attached," explains Vicki Lints. 

Vicki and Dan Lints lost their son to his own struggle with mental illness, two years ago. 

They hope that by raising awareness, other families won't lose a piece of their hearts like they did.

"I think he'd be very proud of us. And happy that we came to support not only him, but anybody else with this disease," adds Lints. 

Together, making strides.

Placing one foot in front of the other, to make change. 

"It makes me feel good," says Green. "It makes me feel like we did some good." 

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