My time at Pascal Youth and Family Services was not only a great learning experience, but is also personally meaningful. I chose to intern at Pascal because it is where my boyfriend of four years, Patrick Lee, was once a client. Last summer, Patrick, who was only 20 years old, died from a drug overdose. It was a traumatic experience, but I chose to turn this tragedy into something good, which is how I came up with the idea to form a charity 5k fun run in memory of Patrick.

Before his death, Patrick struggled for over two years with addiction and mental health issues. He was a caring and loving young man, who always tried to help others. He grew up hearing stories from his father, an officer of the Annapolis City Police Department, about children his age who were living in poor circumstances. Patrick became grateful for simply having a roof over his head and being able to eat a hot meal. He didn’t particularly enjoy Christmas knowing other children were without. While most kids were making a list of toys they wanted, Patrick filled a box full of his own toys and gave it to his father to donate to children in need.

The Patrick Lee Memorial Holiday 5K Fun Run/Walk will continue to help less fortunate families as Patrick did. All proceeds raised will benefit the Robert A. Pascal Youth and Family Services’ Holiday Giving Program. The money is used to buy toys and make food baskets for less fortunate families during Christmas. The run will also raise awareness of mental health issues, especially addiction.

In preparation for this year’s run, I organized meetings, created flyers and registration forms, launched an Eventbrite page, created and continue to manage a Facebook page, drafted letters to corporate sponsors, designed T-shirts, and communicated with volunteers. Over the next few months I will continue to help organize the run as well as the toy and food basket distribution.