Going back to the tragedy, Steve and LizAlderman went in search of a cause that could amply live up to the memory of their son. What they stumbled on is that as a result of war, torture and terrorism, there are approximately one billion people around the world who suffer from such severe mental illness that they lack the will to live. In turn, the Alderman's decided they wanted to help the living victims of the same circumstances that took their son from them.
10 years later, despite the remarkable outreach into Africa, Asia and now Haiti, pitching mental illness to donors is still a tough sell for The Peter C. Alderman Foundation. Mr. Alderman's logic - even in the face of worthy issues such as AIDS, famine and poverty - is simple. "If you lack the will to live, keeping up with the medication regimen of AIDS treatment or making the trip to the nearest well doesn't happen," he says.
Their model is exemplified in their new infiltration into Uganda, where a country of 3.5 million people, which just endured 14 years of civil war, has just one psychologist. PCAF has added another and their job is to train fellow Ugandans in mental health care. By next year, says Alderman, "There will be 50 health workers engaged in mental health treatment and the number will grow every year."
All in all, the day - like any other for the Alderman's - is bitter sweet. Both couldn't help but acknowledge that inthe face of each new baby the walk brings, it's something Peter will never have. Nonetheless, said, Ms. Alderman, "Today, my son would be happy. Relationships were his thing - his hobby."
Phelps, who worked with him growing up and reconnected with him in the city, could speak to what a day's end did for their friendship. "Parties," she said, "that's how I got to know him best."
Unfortunately, second hand is the best the rest of us can do but that connection has been significantly raised to the next level. In April, The Tribeca Film Festival premiered Love Hate Love - a Sean Penn production, which documents the journey of the Alderman's and their foundation.
Still, Dr Alderman felt the latter must be clarified. "We are not the foundation," he said in reference to himself and his wife, "all of you are."
Either way, recognition continues to grow, and it's never a bad thing when our government gets around to it. "USAID is doing a case study on our work in Uganda and have now built a clinic for us there, he says.
As important as that is, it's the marchers close to home that probably matter the most to the Alderman's. And the mutual feeling seems to fuel the whole enterprise.
Unable to contain his tears, Greg Janis pointed to the Alderman's example as something that should be model by everyone. "It's people faced with adversity that charge on through the tough times. All of us should strive to be the people you are," he concluded.
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