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Justice for Jeremy plans Mental Health Awareness festival

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POSTED September 3, 2012 11:01 p.m.

LATHROP – The third annual Justice for Jeremy Mental Health Awareness Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 8, from noon to 6 p.m. at Manuel Valverde Park. The event aims to highlight mental health awareness, information and support networks.

There will be live music, entertainment and food available. Those planning to attend this “family-friendly” event are asked to bring blankets or lawn chairs. There will be lawn seating available.

More than a dozen entertainers and performers are lined up the whole day from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Among those featured include the Manteca Martial Arts, the Stockton Tai Chi Group, Brianne Band, the Cruizin Blues Band of Stockton, and the Advocates Performers. The Serpentarium of Lodi, “A Living Reptile Museum” exhibit will be open from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Mental Health Awareness Festival honors the memory of Jeremy Lum, a third-generation member of the Lum family which has been a pillar in the community for more than half a century. It is a positive off-shot of the non-profit organization, Justice for Jeremy, established by his family “to educate, advocate, assist, intervene, and provide resources and training to law enforcement, first responders, public service agencies, individuals and immediate families of persons who are experiencing a mental-health crisis, are experiencing inadequate responses from public agencies as a result of mental health illness or crisis, and missing persons suffering mental health illness or crisis,” as explained by Connie Lum when the group was officially launched in the wake of her nephew’s untimely death in July 2009.

Jeremy, who was bipolar, was a member of the first senior class to graduate from Sierra High School. He was a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He was 28 years old when he died and was a nursing student at Modesto Junior College.

His body was found floating in the San Joaquin River a few days after he was released from the San Joaquin County Jail in July 2009 where he was detained overnight. The night before, he was picked up by Lathrop police and taken to the county jail. Police alleged he was under the influence; however, family members said Jeremy was disoriented and having a bipolar episode. After he was released from jail, barefoot and without any means of transportation, Jeremy vanished touching off an intensive search that included his father, Jerry, a pilot involved in emergency searches and rescues. Jeremy’s body was found a few days later in the San Joaquin River not far from the county jail.

A year after the tragedy, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Jeremy’s parents, Jerry Lum and Dorothea Timmons in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. The complaint named the City of Lathrop, San Joaquin County, two Sheriff’s sergeants, and 50 unnamed individuals.

For more information about Justice for Jeremy and the Sept. 8 Mental Health Awareness Festival, visit the organization’s page on facebook.com.

Manual Valverde Park is located on Fifth Street in Lathrop’s Old Town District.

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