Road Warriors

We’d like dedicate this page to all of the people we’ve met, heard about, and are told about along the way who are Road Warriors in the world of mental health. It’s a way of honoring them and our way of saying “Thanks!”

Please check back regularly, to learn about all of the incredible people we meet on our Ride to Awareness.

AFSP Walk 5The If Only’s

The picture on this page are family members and friends of my sister, Marilyn, who took her life in September of 2003 after battling depression.  10 years following her death; her son, Brian, organized a team for the Out of Darkness Walk in Milwaukee to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Most of the adults in this picture struggled with the word “if” after Marilyn’s death.  If only I would have done this…  If only I would have known about her suffering.  If only I would have done more for her.  We pray that none of those adults are still struggling with that “if” and have accepted that Marilyn now rests in peace, waiting for them to join her in Heaven.  So, this is to all the Road Warriors who have lost a loved one and are troubled by the “If Only”.  May they seek information about suicide, get counseling if they continue being troubled about what they should have done, and find peace in their hearts.

(submitted by Carolyn Pamperin, Mother to Brenda, one of the RTA riders)

IMG_20150908_124709903_HDRPastor Brad Hales

Pastor Brad is the pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church in Culpeper, Virginia. As a pastor, he has many duties that don’t fit into a set job description.  Yet, he has a personal relationship with every individual.
Pastor Brad has spoken multiple times about how many people come to him each week with their personal problems. Many of them are going through depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety disorder, alcohol issues. The list goes on. Although mental illness is not his specific field, he is often called on for counseling.
Jeanne ComeauJeanne Comeau, President & CEO of NAMI Northern Virginia
Jeanne Comeau is President & CEO of NAMI Northern Virginia. Even though our route doesn’t go through Virginia, she was very excited to support Lynn and Brenda with a kickoff event before they left Northern Virginia.
Jeanne has first hand experience with mental illness because of her own family member. Through her understanding and commitment, she directs over 100 volunteers in multiple programs that are meant to support individuals and families who are affected by mental illness. The local NAMI organizations typically operate with very limited funds and resources.
IMG_20151022_221504Melinda Russell
Melinda spoke at our event for NAMI – El Paso. She has been one of our advocates on our blogs ever since. She has PTSD. First, she spoke on finding her son at the bottom of their swimming pool (he survived). She described the guilt and devastation she felt as a Mother. Then she spoke of her life as a chaplain in Iraq and about her right hand man, who took his life.
Melinda has now dedicated her life to being an advocate for mental illness and for those serving in the military. She is also so inspired by our ride that she has started planning for a multi-day horseback ride that is based on our Ride to Awareness.

JakeWilliam Jacob Wittman

“Jake” had personality, enthusiasm and joy that could raise an entire room. He warmed the hearts of family and friends and was the love of all. Jake’s family and friends miss him dearly.”

Jake saw the spiritual in all people and animals. Sometimes he just saw people as certain animals in an all loving way. His best friend and nephew is Cyle he saw him as a fox. Donny a great friend had the soul of an elephant.

Jake loved Saint Francis the man, not to be confused with the city he grew up in.

He loved music especially albums, the scratchy sound they make. His collection of albums are still in a stack the way he liked to have them. Everything from Cat Stevens to Munford and Sons. Movies were up to be dissected and analyzed bringing new life to a movie you may have thought was terrible or so-so. Once an entertainer was “owned” he forgot about them. Independent was key to success in his mind.

His struggle began at a very early age and progressed without pause. He was honest to the nth degree and shared all his fears one was doing harm to others. In his mind he didn’t want to be another person on the news, voices wouldn’t leave him alone and I feel he died a hero.

Aunt Marilyn
Marilyn Zuern
January 4, 1949 – September 22, 2003

“Many individuals, along with our family, are asking why and how could this happen to someone so beautiful. The answer is unknown to all of us. Only from this tragic event, can we inform you about an illness called depression. We all have bad days where we feel empty and alone, but this in only the beginning of what a person goes through when trying to over come this illness. We all know that we are not alone in this world, so we ask that you share your love with those who are dear to your heart. Please do not wait until it is too late.”

In honor of our aunt…”A wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, and teacher just begins to paint a beautiful picture of who Marilyn was throughout her life. She brought happiness, laughter, and love to all of us. Cherish these memories.”
“We ask that you never forget her face,
the sound of her voice,
the gentleness of her touch,
the stories she told,
…for this shows you were loved.
the traditions she handed down,
the lessons she taught,
the things she stood for,
…for this is her gift to you.
Where there is love, there is hope, and
where there is hope, there is strength”
Road WarriorJoseph Frank Kaminski
November 18, 1989, age 21, was an avid baseball fan.  When in Little League he made it to the national game in Bloomington, MN. Joe was a very loving and thoughtful brother, son and cherished friend to his sister.  Joe’s family misses him more than words can express.
Road Warrior2Frank Edward Kaminski
September 3, 1975, age 42, was a devoted sportsman and proud of the venison he put on the table.
Kathryn Luce
March 11, 1992, age 44, was a sensitive person who loved the arts and wrote poetry.

3,000 Miles of Adventure Cycling across the Southern Tier of the USA to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)