Crowd of Zombies Gather for a Good Cause


CULLMAN – The 2nd Annual Zombie Crawl was just the right event if you are a Walking Dead fan, but it also raised much needed funds for two worthy causes, Mental Healthcare of Cullman and Victim Services of Cullman. The Zombie Crawl offered a parking lot full of free games with candy prizes, shaved ice and popcorn to enjoy, dancing, zombie face painting, a zombie crawl, a brain eating contest and a dance party to finish off the night.

Tommie Sanders was one of the many volunteers for the day of zombie fun. She is a therapist at Mental Healthcare of Cullman and the Board President at Victim Services of Cullman. She stated that at last year’s Zombie Crawl, they raised just over $1,400. Sanders said, “We’re here to raise money and raise awareness about Victim Services and all the services we offer to battered and abused women, and also about Mental Healthcare where we offer services to children through geriatric ages about substance abuse and mental illness.”

Sanders said the funds are distributed to wherever the money is needed. “Mental Healthcare uses the money to buy medications for people that do not have insurance, and Victim Services uses it to help women get to their doctor’s appointments through CARTS,” Sanders said.

Chris Van Dyke, Executive Director at Mental Healthcare, volunteered to be the DJ at the Zombie Crawl. “It’s just fun for me,” he said. When referring to Mental Healthcare, he said, “We see about 3,000 people a year and people don’t think about that.” He said that what Mental Healthcare does is much more complex and larger than people think about. “There’s a lot of need for mental health treatment and a lot of people go untreated because they worry about others knowing or people thinking differently of them, and eventually you have to get past that,” he said.

Donna Jacobs, Executive Director at Victim Services of Cullman, also volunteered for the day. She said, “We all think this is great fun. It’s important to me because I work with domestic violence. Our programs have been cut over the last couple of years and we need to get the community involved as far as helping to get the shelter open and helping the victims of domestic violence in Cullman.”

After volunteering last year, Kym Lesley came back for year two of the Zombie Crawl to teach the Thriller dance once more. She loves teaching the dance and seeing everyone have fun. She has personally been a victim of domestic violence and speaks highly of bringing awareness to the community about how they can help. She advised, “If you know about it, say something. Your silence is just as much participation as the perpetrator when you know it’s happening and you allow it to happen. Do something to reverse it. We beg of the community to say something.”

Lea Heatherly came to volunteer and help out Sanders as much as possible. “Me and Tommie have gone to church together for years and I’ve known her for a very long time. She invited me to come last year, so we came, and then came back this year to help with makeup and to do whatever we can to bring attention to this cause.” Watching the kids get their faces painted is her favorite part. “I think it’s awesome,” she said. She added, “I just believe highly in bringing awareness to Victim Services because it takes women a lot of courage to come out of their circumstances. I really do like supporting this cause and bringing awareness to it.”

If you would like to contribute to either of these causes, you may call the following phone numbers: Mental Healthcare of Cullman 256-734-4688 and Victim Services of Cullman 256-775-2600.