When I heard about Mike Mariani losing his 16 yr. old brother Nathan to suicide in 2018, my heart melted with compassion of a life gone so soon! I was immediately drawn to them, their Moms and this story. I learned that within 3 to 4 months after Nathan’s death, Mike and his friend Devin McLaughlin knew they could help spread their message of hope and help others. The adventurous duo decided to plan a bicycle trip across the US to honor Nathan, raise awareness, and to let people know it’s ok to talk about mental health and suicide.
Not long into the planning process of their 3762-mile bicycle trip they discovered supporters across the state of New Hampshire and beyond. These young men with the help of supportive families have persevered through so much, including the pandemic, to share their message about suicide prevention and mental illness.
Mike and Devin spent many months planning their cycling trip across the US. Then the pandemic hit. Both young men quickly realized that their cross-country trip would not be possible in 2020. They decided that wasn’t going to stop them, and in June of that same year, they set their sights to complete a tri-state tour, through NH, VT, and Maine. The new ride was 700 miles which kept them mostly in NH. During this trip they met great people, followed all CDC guidelines and shared their story. They expressed how important it is for folks to talk about suicide and that if people are experiencing a mental health crisis it’s important to reach out for help. They shared mental health and suicide prevention resources along the way. I am so proud of all they accomplished.
Now Summer 2021 is quickly approaching and Mike and Devin are getting ready to complete their 3762-mile US bicycle trip which is planned to start in June. After Mike and Devin, both Seniors at Keene High School, graduate they will hit the road. Starting in June they will embark on a 72 day journey called Pedaling for Prevention to honor Nathan and raise awareness.
To date Mike and Devin’s efforts have raised well over $23,000 for their trip additionally much of the proceeds are going to the Samaritans of Keene which is an organization that works with survivors of suicide loss.
Both Mike and Devin shared with me that “long challenging roads lead to beautiful destinations and it represents to them the challenging process of overcoming mental illness or the loss of a loved one or friend to suicide, and shines a light on the HOPE that lies at the end of the road for all who endure it.”
Today in honor of National Prevention Week, National Mental Health Month, and Mike and Devin’s journey we are premiering our video entitled Pedaling for Prevention.
Thank you Mike and Devin, so many lives will be touched by your compassion for this. To learn more about how you can support Mike and Devin visit https://sites.google.com/view/pedalingforprevention/home?authuser=0
If you or someone you know are experiencing a mental health crisis reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
By Deb Baird, Resiliency Essentials Coordinator and friend