MINNEAPOLIS, MN. — FirstNet, Built with AT&T, and U.S. Bank will present The Quell Foundation’s 6th Annual Masquerade Ball, set for October 16th at the Aria in Minneapolis, MN.
“This long-awaited event supports a cause that has impacted us all, especially during this pandemic, and reinforces the need for change,” said Renee Wilk, Executive Director for The Quell Foundation. “As the largest fundraising event of the year, our annual masquerade ball funds many critical Quell Foundation programs, including the documentary series, scholarships to future mental healthcare professionals, and other educational initiatives proven to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
“We are grateful to everyone who supports the Gala, whether in-person or virtually. You are enabling the paradigm shift from stigma, silence, and suffering to resilience, compassion, and hope.”
“We’re humbled and honored to be a part of The Quell Foundation’s efforts to address and impact the mental health crisis facing our nation’s first responder community,” said Jason Porter, president, Public Sector and FirstNet at AT&T. “We understand the service first responders provide to our communities comes with personal sacrifice and burdens. Just as FirstNet is there for first responders when they need it most, we want to be there to support the health and well-being of those who serve their communities every day so that they know someone is there for them when they need it.”
“We are honored to support the outstanding work of The Quell Foundation. Quell provides resources and support to individuals, families and communities to destigmatize conversations about mental health and to reduce the number of suicides, overdoses and incarceration of people with mental health illness,” said Reba Dominski, The Quell Foundation Board Member and Chief Social Responsibility Officer for U.S. Bank. The focus of The Quell Foundation’s work this year on first responders is incredibly relevant and important.”
Founded in 2015, The Quell Foundation’s unique approach to supporting mental health is making a difference. The organization awards three types of scholarships and, since its formation, has distributed over $2 million. Quell scholars represent 49 states and over 400 different universities and colleges around the country.
The event’s philanthropic support will also fund the continued development and implementation of The Foundation’s first responder mental health preparedness and training program. Guests of the event will enjoy a special, never-before-seen 12-minute clip of The Foundation’s upcoming documentary Lift the Mask – First Responders Sound the Alarm.
The Foundation will honor local businessman Brian Murray with The Quell Foundation Achievement Award. Murray is the CEO of Ryan Companies, a national commercial real estate services company specializing in designing, developing, constructing, financing, and managing commercial real estate properties. He is a champion of ending the stigma of mental illness, particularly among men, and willingly shares his own depression story to create hope for others.
“I am thankful that I have a public opportunity to discuss a topic that I am very passionate about – men’s mental health,” said Murray. “Mental illness is real, common, and treatable. It can be overcome with professional help. I look forward to and am humbled to share my story as The Quell Foundation’s 2021 Achievement Award Honoree.”
Other speakers and performances for the event include:
- Chris Fields is a former member of the Oklahoma City Fire Department and was captured in a photo that became an iconic symbol of the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 when he was cradling the body of 1yr old Baylee Almon. Chris is now dedicated to his life and travels to speak to other 1st responders; he discusses the brutal realities of a life spent responding to citizens in their darkest hours.
- Fardowsa Hassan is a recent Quell graduate from the University of Minnesota in the College of Continuing Education and Professional Studies. She was a recipient of the Nolte-Miller, CCAPS Graduate Tuition, and Quell Bridge the Gap scholarships. In August 2020, she was awarded a National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Foundation Minority Fellowship Program for Addictions Counselors (MFP-AC). Hassan will receive funding and training to support her education and facilitate her addictions counseling service to underserved populations. She also earned a Master’s in Integrated Behavioral Health and will speak about her journey to become a mental health care professional.
- Minneapolis’ own Dessa will offer the event’s guests a once-in-a-lifetime private performance. Dessa is a rapper and singer who has performed in rock clubs and concert halls on five continents. Her music has appeared everywhere from the Billboard charts, to the Hamiltonmixtape, the “RBG” documentary, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s Twitter feed. She’s also an author who has published poetry books and a memoir, and has written for the New York Times and National Geographic Traveler. Her TED talk “How to Fall out of Love” has been viewed over three million times. And if that isn’t enough she also writes and hosts the BBC’s science podcast Deeply Human.
Sponsors for the event include FirstNet, Built with AT&T, U.S. Bank, Aetna, Zudy, Allina Health, the Culp Family Foundation, McKinsey & Co., MOD Worldwide, and Ryan Companies.