ADRIAN — More than three months have passed since one of Lenawee County’s leading advocates for mental health services died while on a routine morning jog.
Greg Adams, 48, of Adrian died Feb. 13 from injuries sustained after being hit by a vehicle the morning of Feb. 7 in Adrian while jogging on Howell Highway.
Adams was the founder of the annual E-race the Stigma 5K run, which is held in downtown Adrian. He resigned earlier this year from the Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority board, where he had been chairman, after being hired by the LCMHA as a peer support specialist.
On Thursday, the LCMHA board paid tribute to Adams and his many efforts in advocating for mental health services in the county by presenting awards, proclamations and letters of recognition to his family during the board’s meeting in Adrian.
A Leadership Award, which thanked Adams for seven years of “dedication and commitment to the Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority Board and to the citizens of Lenawee County,” a Community Service Award from the LCMHA recognizing Adams for his “dedication, commitment and passion to mental health in Lenawee County and beyond” and thanking him for bringing the E-Race the Stigma 5K to the community, a special recognition from the Lenawee County Board of Commissioners, and a state of Michigan recognition signed by Rep. Bronna Kahle, R- Adrian, Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Onsted, Lt. gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were presented to Adams’ family.
Amy Palmer, LCMHA chair, and Kathryn Szewczuk, executive director of the LCMHA, presented the recognitions to Adams’ parents, Tom and Barbara; his sister, Carrie Adams; longtime family friend, Jennifer Landstrom; and his fiancee, Stefani Kozlowski.
“We think about Greg every day and we talk about him every day, too,” Palmer said when presenting the Community Service Award to Adams’ family.
Palmer said she knew and worked alongside Adams for close to nine years. She got to know him through his passion for the E-Race 5K and also when they both served as co-chairs on the Behavioral Health Access Initiative.
“I’ve always been inspired by his passion for mental health and his ability to connect with people, as we really, as a community, work together to erase the stigma,” she said.
Palmer called Adams a wonderful advocate for mental health, a wonderful board member and a wonderful staff member for Community Mental Health. The LCMHA board had planned to recognize Adams for his dedication, efforts and passion during a February board meeting, which would also acknowledge him as he transitioned off the board to his new staff position.
“It was so important for us that we just paused and honored him and all that he did,” Palmer said. “Its meant so much to us, and I think to his family, that we acknowledged his time on the board, even though he couldn’t be here to accept it. For his family to be here was really important for us.”
Information was also presented regarding the date, time and name change for the eighth E-Race the Stigma 5K coming up this fall.
The 2022 Greg Adams E-Race the Stigma 5K Run/Walk and Kid’s Dash will begin at 9 am Oct. 1 in downtown Adrian. The LCMHA board said it was a “no brainer” to recognize Adams and his commitment to the race by renaming it in his honor.
The race is a collaboration between LCMHA, ProMedica Hickman Hospital, Family Medical Center, the city of Adrian and the Sage Foundation. The goal of the event is to increase the awareness of mental health issues, with a focus on overall health and wellness, mind, body and spirit.
The 5K, which began in 2014, addressed Adams’ passion for mental and physical health. He came up with the idea for the E-Race because of his own experience using exercise as part of the treatment regimen he used after being diagnosed bipolar. He originally took up running to lose weight and to improve his physical fitness.
Szewczuk said Adams previously told her most community runs and race fundraisers last for about five years before interest in them wanes out. This year’s race will be the eighth run, and two of those events have taken place during COVID-19 pandemic years, she said. LCMHA board members have said they expect this year’s run to be the largest attended of any of the E-Races.
“It says a lot to how important his message has been to this community,” Szewczuk said. “The community wants to keep it going.”
Barbara Adams said she and the family were not only “thrilled” about the race being named in their son’s honor, but they were also excited to receive the recognitions.
“It certainly means a lot because it’s wonderful to hear the things that (Greg) did,” she said. “A lot of things he was up to, we didn’t know about. We didn’t have any idea as parents. We really enjoyed hearing about those things we didn’t know about. And it’s so gratifying to meet people who knew and appreciated Greg.”