Allen in Bar Harbor, ME

RTA Press Release 01/05/2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sue Reddy Silverman
954-294-9539

SOUTH FLORIDA BUSINESSMAN LAUNCHES CHARITY TO HELP THE MENTALLY ILL
He and 20 Cyclists Will Spend Two Months Riding Through Eight States Going 3,000 Miles On A Bicycle…For Charity!

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – One in four adults suffers from some form of mental Illness. That’s 61.5 million Americans! Allen Giese, a South Florida businessman, is doing something about it.

Giese launched www.RidetoAwareness.org, a non-profit charity to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and its local chapters that strive to end the stigma attached to mental illness.

In September, just after his 55th birthday, Giese and his band of cyclists are going to embark on a 3,000-mile bicycle ride across the eight states that make up the southern United States. They’re going to spend two months cycling from San Diego, CA, to St. Augustine, FL, to raise awareness and money for mental illness.

Watch the Ride to Awareness debut video by following this link: https://ridetoawareness.org/ride-to-awareness/

Giese, whose family is personally affected by mental illness, will stop in 10 cities along the 60-day, coast-to-coast ride to host events and promote the cause. He has already attracted some corporate sponsors, riders and donations have started to come in. RidettoAwareness.org officially became a 501(c)(3) charity on January 9th, making all donations tax deductible.

Three years ago, Giese, an avid cyclist since childhood, spent 58 days riding his bicycle 2,890 miles from Key West, FL, to Bar Harbor, Maine. It was such a life changing experience; he knew he had to do it again. Having proved that he was physically capable of doing it, he decided his next ride was going to be bigger and dedicated to charity. His personal daily travel blog of that a ride received more than 50,000 followers and he produced a photo journal as a souvenir. That book is now being made into a paperback and e-book as added value for those who become sponsors, ride or donate generously.

This time, Giese and a diverse group of about 20 adventure cyclists will leave from the Pacific Coast city of San Diego, CA, and cycle an average of 50 miles a day though steep mountainous terrain, the driest of deserts, back country roads and even busy Interstate Highways to make their way across the southern United States in 60 days until they reach Atlantic Coast city of St. Augustine, Florida on around November 15, 2015.

They will cross eight states, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. They will stop in at least 10 cities to raise money, awareness and pick up riders who can’t commit to a 60-day ride but still want to participate in touring segments of the trip. The cities include San Diego, Phoenix/Tempe, El Paso, Austin, Baton Rouge, Mobile, Pensacola, Tallahassee, Gainesville and St.Augustine. And it’s all to benefit NAMI.

“Mental illness is a very misunderstood disease,” said Giese, who is one of NAMI Broward’s biggest fundraisers. “Until my family was personally affected, I didn’t even understand it. That’s why this ride is so important. It’s not only to raise funds, which are desperately needed, but to raise awareness and remove the stigma associated with mental illness.”

According to NAMI.org, mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Despite effective treatments, there are long delays-sometimes decades-between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help as a result of the stigma associated with mental illness.

Here are some statistics:

  • Mental illness affects one in four adults – that’s 61.5 million Americans- in any given year.
  • One in 17 live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent.
  • One half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; three-quarters by age 24.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. (more common than homicide) and the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years.
  • More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide had one or more mental disorders.
  • Although military members compromise less than one percent of the population, veterans represent 20 percent of suicides annually.
  • Each day, about 22 veterans die from suicide.

“The national, regional and even local exposure for this event is huge,” said Giese, whose day job is being president of NorthStar Financial Planners, a fee-only wealth management firm. “Not only are we’re going to spend 60 days promoting our cause across eight states and numerous cities during the ride, but we have an entire team of social media and publicity experts on board now already promoting our cause. Our social media numbers on Facebook, Twitter alone are impressive. We are also on Instagram and have our own YouTube channel.

“I also post a blog every night about the day’s ride,” Giese added. “The last ride I blogged about had more than 50,000 people following me and that was just for fun. Companies interested in that kind of exposure will get a lot of bang for their buck. That means major visibility for sponsors, including a commercially wrapped RV that follows along, media stops in at least 10 cities to visit local NAMI Chapters, exchange riders and big events at the start and finish.

“We’re looking for support from companies including bike manufacturers, clothing and supply companies; hotel chains, outdoor outfitters for camping gear, food and beverage distributors, a cook, an RV rental firm and even a journalist or two who wants to join the ride and report on our progress,” he concluded.

To keep up-to-date on the progress of the ride; subscribe to the blog at https://ridetoawareness.org/category/blog/.
Like, Follow and Subscribe on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, email sue@ridetoawareness.org.
If you’d like to join the ride, email allen@ridetoawareness.org.
If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit www.RidetoAwareness.org and give generously.
For any additional information, visit www.RidetoAwareness.org.