Oak Park native Stephanie Kauffman has found strength to tell her story of surviving mental illness through the MOM Race.

“I remember when I first heard about MOM, it made me feel like what I was going through seemed more acceptable,” says Stephanie, who has suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder. “The symptoms I was having from my illness and how alone I felt made me sink deeper and deeper into my depression. Eventually, I began having a lot of suicidal thoughts, which then led to a few attempts.”

Stephanie spent several years in and out of treatment centers, but with the help of therapy, medication and incredible strength, she is a survivor and has written a book, Living on the Border, to share her story about growing up with mental illness. She has also contributed to the MOM race since 2011. “The three most powerful words I needed to hear when I was at my worst was, ‘You’re not alone!’ MOM gave me that!”

During the 2013 event, Stephanie stood up in front of the crowd and bravely shared her story and her book. “It felt so great to feel like everyone was there to support one cause and it made me feel less alone.  I know for a long period of time, I felt like I needed to keep the fact that I had a mental illness a secret.  I felt like it was a shameful thing.  Having so much support around you at MOM, gives out a feeling that you are not alone and that others understand.”