Leading up to its annual Race of Hope, the Hope for Depression Research Foundation hosted its first-ever drive-by lunch in Southampton on Thursday, July 16, to thank top donors and to kick off this year’s virtual race.
The drive-by lunch was held in front of the Southampton Cultural Center on Pond Lane. The beautiful sunny day matched HDRF’s signature sunshine yellow color scheme, as guests drove to pick up a picnic lunch, courtesy of Eli Zabar, to take home or enjoy in the park.
HDRF Founder and Chair Audrey Gruss, along with volunteers and the Race of Hope Grand Marshals Jamee Gregory and Arthur Dunnam greeted guests as they arrived, while donning shirts and face masks in that same sunshine yellow.
“I think it was a wonderful option,” says Gruss. “We love interacting with everybody in a safe way.”
Each guest received a straw basket with yellow ribbon filled with a lunch of sliced chicken, salads, cheese platter, cookies, mini-brownies and fresh cherries and plums. “They were fabulous,” she says of the picnic baskets.
Greeted with sunshine yellow balloons—which are recyclable and environmentally friendly—over 30 top donors attended, including Steve Bernstein, Janna Bullock and Jean Shafiroff. Martin Gruss led the procession of arriving cars in a bright yellow vintage Ferrari.
Gruss says she was very proud of that fact that everyone arrived to the lunch with a face masks on. “I think every time that people are seen in masks it reinforces that a mask is one of the most important things that anyone can do to stop the spread [of COVID-19],” she says.
The mission of the HDRF is to fund cutting-edge neuroscience research into the origins, medical diagnosis, new treatments and prevention of depression and its related mood disorders.
“Depression is a grand-challenge public health issue that was critical before COVID-19 and imperative now,” says Gruss. “Mental health needs to be a top priority for our nation now, and we are so thankful to all our Southampton supporters who are answering the call.”
She founded HDRF in 2006 in memory of her mother Hope, who struggled with clinical depression. She notes that depression is the number one reason for disability and suicide worldwide, and yet over 35% of people do not respond to conventional medications.
To date, HDRF has provided over $36 million through more than 125 grants for accelerated depression research.
The race, which will go virtual with an online opening ceremony and countdown on Sunday, August 2 at 8:10 a.m., will bring together hundreds of runners across the nation to raise mental health awareness. There will be messages of hope from race participants, including Eric Dane of “Grey’s Anatomy,” and a Grand Marshal welcome before the race starts at 8:30 a.m.
Runners and walkers who sign up will choose their own race route, whether it’s their street, beach or treadmill. “It shows that life can go on, but in a safe and different way,” says Gruss.
The cost to register is $35. The first 1,000 to sign up will receive a commemorative hat, jacket, runner’s bib and a four-inch 2020 Race of Hope spinner medal. One hundred percent of the funds raised will support research to transform the way depression is viewed, diagnosed, treated and prevented.
For more information or to register, visit raceofhopeseries.com.