Daktronics Employees Make Strides in Raising Mental Health Awareness

Robert Terrell and Vicki Graves use their corporate sponsorship to support the National Alliance on Mental Illness.



One in five people are affected by some form of mental illness in their lifetime. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. The NAMIWalk is a fundraising event with more than 50,000 participants in 100 community walks across the country.

Robert Terrell’s (Tech Team Lead, Live Events Services, SD Sioux Falls) first experience with NAMI was through his son’s traveling football team, the Midwest Miners. “Last season the team played in honor of Hilinski’s Hope foundation, a foundation in honor of a football player from Washington State University that suffered depression and took his own life,” explained Terrell.

Hilinski’s Hope, also known as H3H, has very similar values to NAMI. The goal of educating and advocating the importance of mental health is the shared mission of both organizations.

“The team wears Tyler’s number on their helmets; they also wear Hilinski’s Hope bracelets,” Terrell said. “The coaches also give them extra bracelets for them to give out to their friends and family so they can encourage people to not be afraid to talk about things like depression in hopes that someone might hear it and get help.”

Terrell’s son’s team wanted to continue to support the message and vision that Hilinski’s Hope is promoting. “The team wanted to do more in the foundations name, so they decided to do the NAMIWalk this year as a team,” he said.

Once the team decided to do the NAMIWalk, the coaches brought in representatives from the NAMI office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to talk about the walk itself and some services they can provide to the team, parents, and coaching staff.

“It is important to be aware that it is ok to seek out help if you are feeling depressed or have any signs of mental illness. You can contact NAMI for free counseling and Daktronics even has some services that are offered through our benefits” said Terrell.

Vicki Graves (Sales Coordinator, Large Sports Venues, SD Corporate) is the treasurer of the Brookings, South Dakota, NAMI affiliate. The beginning of Graves’ ten-year tenure at NAMI began when a friend recommended she get involved in the organization.

She now leads her own mental health support group called Connections through NAMI here in Brookings. “There is a huge stigma about mental illness. It is a disease just like diabetes or heart disease,” said Graves. “It will sometimes get a bad reputation because of the violence that can be associated with it. It is important to know that there is a lot more to the story.”

Terrell and Graves both used their corporate sponsorships as monetary donations to the NAMIWalk. The money raised goes towards training the NAMI officials, supporting the families/individuals that are affected by mental illness, and mental illness advocacy.

From Graves’s ten years of involvement in the organization to Terrell first hearing about it, these two employees both exemplify a unified passion for the nation’s leading voice in mental health.



This article is by Sydney Wood

In Employee Communications.