Published On: Fri, Jan 24th, 2020

Hope for Depression Research Foundation Kicks-off Awareness Raising Campaign in Palm Beach

Royal Park Bridge Lights Up Yellow for the Race of Hope

Shining Light on The Importance of Mental Health in 2020 

February 4 – 15, 2020

Boca Raton, FL – Palm Beach’s iconic Royal Park Bridge will light up in sunshine yellow on Tuesday, February 4 to kick off the Hope for Depression Research Foundation’s (HDRF) Annual Race of Hope to Defeat Depression and declare a town-wide campaign to raise awareness about mental health.

The bridge lights, underwritten by Addison Hines Charitable Trust, will stay lit in HDRF’s signature yellow for the entire month of February.

HDRF’s Race of Hope, the centerpiece of the campaign, is a 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, February 15 at 8 am at The Royal Poinciana Plaza. HDRF Founding Chair Audrey Gruss and Board member Scott Snyder, both Palm Beach residents, are Grand Marshals for the annual event which is now in its second year. With hundreds registered from Palm Beach and beyond, the Race unites the community in an active day of health to speak out about depression and raise funds for critical research. 

“Depression is the Number One cause of suicide and disability worldwide,” said Audrey Gruss, “and our vow in the next decade is to find new treatments that will finally bring this complex illness under control.”

Gruss added: “The support we receive in Palm Beach for the work we do affirms our commitment to defeating this debilitating illness that affects each and every one of us, either directly or indirectly.”

Week of Hope

Just after the bridge lighting and in the run-up to the Race, The Royal Poinciana Plaza will kick off the Week of Hope on Wednesday, February 5. Many storefronts at The Royal Poinciana Plaza will place a two-foot-wide, environmentally friendly and re-usable, yellow statement balloon at their front doors and hand out informational flyers about depression.

Over in the Worth Avenue shopping district, other stores along Via Bice will also display balloons and support HDRF’s mission with a percentage of sales during a Day of Hope on Wednesday, February 12.

“The bridge and the bright balloons represent a commitment to change the staggering statistics around depression,” said Audrey Gruss.

“The Royal Poinciana Plaza is thrilled to participate in this event for the second year in a row,” added Alexandra Patterson, Senior Director of Development and Interim General Manager of The Royal Poinciana Plaza. “The HOPE yellow balloons make a visual impact that will spark thousands of life-saving conversations and we are grateful to have the opportunity to support  such an important cause.”

The Hope for Depression Research Foundation is the country’s leading non-profit organization dedicated solely to fighting depression through research and education. Now in its 14th year, HDRF launched the Race of Hope in Palm Beach in 2019, expanding the event from Southampton, NY, where the Race first started in 2016.   Last year the Race of Hope in Palm Beach raised over $300,000 for life-saving research.

Here is a recap of the events launching the Race of Hope in Palm Beach:

  • Tuesday, February 4: Bridge Lighting at sunset in HDRF signature sunshine yellow
  • Wednesday, February 5: Week of Hope kicks off at The Royal Poinciana Plaza with visually-arresting HOPE balloons (environmentally friendly and re-usable).
  • Wednesday, February 12, from 10am to 8pm, Worth Avenue’s Via Bice will host a shop and sip Day of Hope with music and refreshments and all stores donating a percentage of sales back to Hope for Depression Research Foundation.   The day caps off with cocktails at Bice restaurant (313 Worth Ave, Palm Beach, FL 33480) starting at 5 pm.
  • Thursday, February 13, Audrey Gruss and Frances Valentine are hosting an invitation-only luncheon at the Frances Valentine flagship store on Worth Avenue’s Via Bice.
  • Saturday, February 15, the final day of the Week of Hope, Audrey Gruss and Palm Beach resident and HDRF Board member Scott Snyder, Race Grand Marshals, will lead the Second Annual Palm Beach 5K Race of Hope along the North trail and through the scenic streets of Palm Beach at 8am.  Participants have registered from all over South Florida to unite as a community and raise awareness and funds to defeat depression.  All participants will receive a finisher hat, short sleeve tech shirt, lightweight jacket and a finisher medal. 100% of proceeds from the Race will fund groundbreaking research into the root causes of depression in the brain and new and better treatments. Supporters who cannot travel to the race are encouraged to have their own “virtual race” in their hometown for $29. To sign up or learn more, please visit

Palm Beach 5K Race of Hope Committee:

Lynne Wheat, Deborah & Philippe Dauman, Diana & E. Llwyd Ecclestone, William Finneran*, Maria & Kenneth Fishel, Myrna Haft, Mrs. Nataly Langner, Susan Lloyd, Renée & Carlos Morrison, James R. Borynack & Adolfo Zaralegui, Anna de Peyster, Jennifer & David Fischer, Laura & James Freeman, Mrs. Todd Goodwin, Ellen & Ian Graham, Lawrence Herbert, Ann & Charles B. Johnson, Eleanora Kennedy, Iris & William Kontes, Judy & Leonard Lauder, Melanie & Roger Lawson, Ambassador & Mrs. Howard Leach, Chris Leavitt, Mr. Sam Lehrman & Ms. Lisa Kenna, Muffy & Donald Miller,The Honorable Mary Ourisman, Jeff Pfeifle & David Granville, Amy & John Phelan, Pauline Pitt, Thomas C. Quick, Felicia Taylor, Debbie & Jack Thomas, Bruce Bierman & William Secord, Kimberly Gaines Bitterman, Geoffrey N. Bradfield, Scott Diament/CEO Palm Beach Show Group, Lisa Dobbs, Tina Fanjul, Alexander Federbush, Inez Fogel Heery/Betteridge, Susie & Vere Gaynor, Trish Figge Glowacki, Mrs. Roni Goldsmith, Darcy & George Gould, Jamee & Peter Gregory, J. Ira & Nicki Harris, Harriet & Ashley Hoffman, Herb & Eva Jacobi, Darlene & Gerald Jordan, Jayne T. Keith, Sir Christopher & Lady Louise Lewinton, Kristina Grimm McCooey, William A. Meyer, Peggy Moore, Lucia Nielsen Musso, Mario Nievera, Fernanda Niven, David G. Ober, Linda Olsson, Sallie B. Phillips, Ande Phipps, Robin Pickett, Daniel E. Ponton, Marzia Precoda, Adi Rappoport/Gunster Law Firm, Joanna Roland, Frances G. Scaife, Barbara & Randall Smith, Mary & Daniel Stanton, Betsy & Wally Turner, Lis Waterman, and Clelia & Thomas Zacharias.

* In Memoriam

Palm Beach 5K Race of Hope Sponsors:

Addison Hines Charitable Trust, The Royal Poinciana Plaza, Livingston Builders, Black River Caviar, Art Findlay, Impala Asset Management, Contessa Gallery, Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary, Coral Shores Behavioral Health, Hamptons Tax and Advisory Services, La Clara, Coastal Gardens, Hamilton Jewelers, UBS, Sunreef Yachts, Frances Valentine, Palm Beach Illustrated, Brown Moving and Storage, and Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Palm Beach 5K Race of Hope Registration Information

  • Date: Saturday, February 15, 2020
  • Time: Check-in begins at 7:00 am and the race begins at 8am
  • Meeting Point: The Royal Poinciana Plaza (340 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach, FL 33480)
  • Cost:  $45 per adult until Wednesday, February 12 when online registration closes; $45 at Packet Pickup on Friday, February 14; $50 on Race Day, $20 per student and $15 per child (14 and under).
  • Strollers and dogs welcome

What is HDRF, and a quick overview of their work/achievements in the past decade:

  • HDRF is the leading non-profit dedicated solely to advanced depression research.
  • Audrey Gruss founded the organization in 2006 in memory of her mother, Hope, who struggled with depression.
  • The mission of HDRF is to fund cutting-edge neuroscience research into the origins, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of depression and other related mood disorders.
  • In 2010, HDRF launched its Depression Task Force – a collaboration of nine leading scientists, at the frontiers of brain science, from different research institutions across the U.S. and Canada. To accelerate breakthrough research, they share ongoing results, in real-time, at the HDRF Data Center.
  • HDRF has invested over 30 million dollars in advanced depression research to date.

About Depression: 

  • In the United States, depression affects over 20-million adults each year – that is one in 10 adults.
  • Depression is the leading cause of suicide. In the United States, one person dies by suicide every 11 minutes – over 47,000 people per year.
  • Depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide.
  • Depression costs society $210-billion annually – 60% of which represents reduced efficiency at work and costs related to suicide.

The Crisis in Research and Treatment 

  • Over 50% of those diagnosed with depression do not respond to existing treatments.  
  • In 35 years since the introduction of Prozac and other SSRI anti-depressants, there has been almost no change in the treatment of depression, just tinkering with existing approaches.
  • Although depression is one of the most serious and prevalent conditions in the US, it is ranked 77th (out of 250) in the amount of federal funding it receives.
  • Most of the major pharmaceutical companies have discontinued brain research

What Makes HDRF Different

  • The Depression Task Force represents the most innovative approach to neuroscience research today
  • The Task Force has created an unprecedented research plan with each member executing a piece of the plan in their own laboratories.  By avoiding well-worn paths of research, the team is shaking up the field for answers that will finally lead to new treatments for depression.
  • They share results in real-time at a centralized data bank. This allows them to leverage data to accelerate research. This is unheard of in the entire scientific research field which is normally competitive and not collaborative.

About The Royal Poinciana Plaza  

The Royal Poinciana Plaza is an iconic destination that serves as a jewel box oasis in the heart of beautiful Palm Beach. Built in the late 1950s, it stands today as a landmarked property and one of Palm Beach’s most treasured architectural gems. With 180,000 square feet of retail space and lush, sprawling gardens, it offers a unique international shopping and entertainment destination for indulgence, inspiration, and retreat. Designed by world-renowned architect John Volk, The Royal echoes some of Europe’s legendary retail destinations like the Palais Royal in Paris. The property has been carefully restored to its original mid-century glamour while remaining true to its retail roots. Its offerings will include a unique mix of luxury retail, fashion, dining and entertainment, along with amenities for both local and international visitors.  Arranged around two beautiful courtyards with outdoor furniture, palm trees and gardens, The Royal provides a destination for guests to enjoy outdoor events, read the paper, sip a coffee, gather with family and friends, shop or dine. For more information, visit or discover more @theroyalpoincianaplaza on Instagram.

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