From October 1st through 15th, the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundatio, a Fort Worth-based organization that focuses on bringing the conversation around suicide and depression to light, spearheaded the 1,800-mile 2022 Light the Trail ride from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico.
Every year, there are approximately 1.2 million suicide attempts. Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, yet the stigma around depression and suicide still exists. The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation has been fighting since 2014 to eliminate that stigma by funding research, raising awareness, and educating our communities. The organization founded the Light the Trail ride specifically to expand this effort of awareness, prevention, and engagement at the community level.
How It All Started
Co-founder Tom Harris and JEHF board member Isaac Manning chose to call the ride “Light the Trail” because the mission of the Ride is to bring the conversation around mental health and suicide to Light and to erase the stigma. The teams who participate are able to raise awareness just by arriving at a location by bicycle and wearing their Light the Trail cycling gear. People along the route are curious about what the cyclists are doing and once they learn of the Ride’s mission, they start sharing their own personal stories.
This is the second Light the Trail ride since 2017, when participants rode from the west coast to the east coast essentially riding in reverse of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Between these two rides, The Jordan Harris Foundation has raised significant funding and been able to support continued research focused on treating depression, suicide prevention training, creating resources, and supporting initiatives led by The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation.
Can’t Ride? Here’s How You Can Help Spread the Word
To guarantee that everyone who wants to be involved but is unable to actually ride can participate, the organization created #Ride4 submissions and Virtual Riding experiences. People are invited to submit stories through #Ride4 on the official Light the Trail website to honor people they have lost and explain why they were riding in honor of that person. Virtual Riders are also able to follow along through online RideGPS, sponsor riders, and meet the team at designated locations along the trail.
Whether you participate in the ride, make a donation, or share a story, you are helping bring the conversation around mental illness and suicide awareness to light and bringing us one step closer to living in a world where suicide is never the choice.
“With all of the things that are happening in each one of our communities, it’s important that people can speak about their struggles with mental illness, depression, and suicide and be heard. On our 2017 ride across the country it was remarkable how many people at every stop were willing to share their stories. The outpouring was overwhelming,” says Tom Harris.