I’ve loved biking all my life.
As a kid I was constantly on my bike. When I wasn’t on a bike I was taking bikes apart, changing components, spray painting frames and learning how everything worked. My first job as a paperboy required a bike. I biked everywhere I needed to go from the time I was about 10 all the way through college. The bicycle gave me an early sense of independence. My world was as large as I could bike and I’ve never stopped riding. It’s just something I love to do.
To me biking is as close to religion as anything else. It’s the often times literal mountain between my soul and its goal. It gives me peace, serenity and of course, plenty of challenges. Without a doubt, some of the truth and meaning I’ve found in my life I’ve found through cycling.
Three years ago I biked from Key West, Florida, to Bar Harbor, Maine. It took two months to cover the nearly 3,000 miles. Physically it was the hardest thing I have ever done. But the sense of freedom being out on the open road along with the sense of accomplishment getting through each day made the tour a joy that I’ll cherish as long as I live…I couldn’t wait to do it again!
I just needed to figure out how to get the stars to align to make it happen. Then an idea began to form. If I were to do another ride, perhaps I could make it a charity ride to raise awareness and funds for a cause near and dear to my heart. That’s when I created www.RidetoAwareness.org to benefit the National Alliance for Mental Illness or NAMI.
Mental illness impacts the lives of at least one in four adults and one in 10 children across the United States. People living with mental illness need help and hope. They need a community that supports them, their families and their recovery. NAMI Broward, where we live, was there to help my family when we needed it most. This is my chance to give back.
As the idea of RidetoAwareness.org continues to catch on, we welcome your support, encourage you to give generously and speak out by sharing your story or experience with mental illness to inspire others. This will help reduce the stigma. You are not alone.
Allen P. Giese