One St. Louis man is walking from Kansas City to St. Louis. He’s walking to share his story about a lifetime struggle with mental illness. His walk aims to raise awareness and funds for more mental health support in rural communities.
Mark Norwine sits at Cooper’s Landing on the Missouri River Wednesday enjoying a banana and a bottle of water. With a hundred more miles to walk and just eight days to do it, he doesn’t have much down time. For Norwine, this walk represents the changing moment in his life.
Two years ago he was diagnosed as bipolar after thirty four years of thinking it was just depression. The diagnosis helped stabilize his life when his illness led to job and financial ruin. Norwine said he hopes his journey will reach someone who might be struggling with a similar condition. He is targeting his message to youth, especially in small towns across rural Missouri.
“There’s almost an embarrassment, or an unwillingness to talk about these issues, especially in the smaller communities," Norwine said. "I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they don’t have the resources and so they don’t have a lot of people getting the help they need,” he said.
Norwine is joined by his son, Eric, who is producing a film about his father’s story called Walking Man. Eric also suffers from bipolar disorder. He said this walk is about supporting the person he looks up to most.
“There’s nothing that kills you more than seeing your hero humbled to dust," Eric said. "You know he had deferred so many dreams throughout his life to make sure that I could pursue mine and I thought this was the perfect way to say ‘thank you’ and do my part in helping him get his message out there."
Mark Norwine plans to arrive home in a little over a week. He expects to be greeted by over a thousand people at the end of his journey.