Team

Tom

RIDER

When I share the idea of riding a bicycle across the country some 3700 miles I generally get one of those “are you nuts” looks from just about everyone. It was the same look I gave my friend Isaac who came up with the idea in the first place. It didn’t take me long to buy in as I pondered the notion of riding across America in order to expand the dialogue regarding depression and suicide. Isaac, my partner in this adventure, is one of those special people who has found ways throughout his lifetime to inspire and motivate folks to pursue things that…too most…just seem too farfetched.

This country’s journey to better understand mental illness and its effects on a huge number of people has miles to go. Our society doesn’t allow enough opportunities for those who are struggling to readily reveal their illness and easily get treatment without barriers. It’s not in our nature to admit that we have depression and our families naturally try and keep it quiet during therapy. We have to change the conversation and establish the fact that depression is a serious mental illness. We have to give it the attention that it deserves when it comes to eliminating the stigma surrounding those who suffer and those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

As we rode across the country I shared Jordan’s story proudly and shared all her wonderful attributes and stories with those that we meet in every community we visit. We talked about the extraordinary young lady who was totally focused on helping people around her, near and far. We talked about Jordan’s foundation and the important work it’s doing in the Fort Worth community that’s focused on depression research and suicide prevention programs. We also expanded on the idea of how other communities might mimic our efforts. Most importantly, we listened to others who wanted to share their story.

We did this ride in honor of Jordan Elizabeth and the thousands of people who are struggling today and who have struggled in the past.

Isaac

RIDER

I remember exactly where I was when I received the call informing me that Jordan Elizabeth Harris had died. What I couldn’t rationalize at the time was how this incredibly special young woman, whom I had watched grow up and who was the light of so many people’s lives, could take her own life. Twenty months later, a young man at my sons’ high school took his as well. Two years after that, 16 Paschal High students signed a suicide pact and two of them actually took their lives before an intervention team funded by the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation stepped in.

I rode because I don’t ever want to go to another funeral for a child who has been so overwhelmed by darkness that taking their own life would be the only option.

I come from a long line people who have wrestled with depression over the generations. I wrestled with it through much of my teens and early adulthood; I know full well its depths and its impact. I am fortunate that with the help of friends and by what I used to call running-to-daylight, I kept the darkness at bay. I have been fortunate that my family has thus far been spared. We are the lucky ones. As my wife, Libby, likes to say about southern families, “Yall’d much rather sweep something unpleasant under the rug than deal with it head on.” The Light the Trail ride was my response to this deadly notion of denying depression’s existence. It’s time to do something about it.

Everyone has a story. Our ride was about making it ok to share those stories. We needed to “bring the conversation to light” along our route and around the country with this ride. We wanted to put an end to the tragedy and the stigma and to eradicate suicide as an option. When confronted with the choice of darkness or light, I rode because I choose light and life. I hope that others will follow.

Dyar

PROGRAM DIRECTOR

From nearby small town Grandview, TX, Dyar’s winding, wandering path led him around the world and back, just in time and perfectly prepared to head the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation’s ambitious Light the Trail cycling journey.

While studying at the University of Texas Dyar partook in the Texas 4000 for Cancer charity bike ride from Austin, TX to Anchorage, AK, the first of a series of long adventures across the globe. Upon graduating he set off to Mexico and China with a non-profit media production team which produced a series of documentary videos and articles highlighting the unique stigmas surrounding cancer survivors in other nations. And after a year living abroad & teaching English in Japan, joined by three filmmaker/photographer friends he embarked on his biggest journey yet, a 21 month, 14,000 mile self-supported cycling venture from the top of Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina.

Dyar was thrilled to apply his experience with long distance bike travel and media production toward honoring Jordan, one of his closest friends and a fellow giddy globetrotter.

Ellen

CREW & RIDER

Jordan is my oldest daughter. I was blessed to have her in my life for 22 years and watch the joy and love she brought to all who met her. I never understood depression and the depths of despair to which a person can fall while suffering with depression until Jordan took her life. Light the Trail was a way for me to share Jordan’s story and do what I can to convince people that there IS hope and suicide is never the right choice.

Conversations about mental illness and suicide are difficult, I want to make them easier. The more often people have these conversations openly, the more quickly the stigma is erased. As stigma is erased, fear is diminished, and people are more willing to seek treatment.

We stopped in towns and cities along the Light the Trail route to share our experiences and listen to others share their experiences. We had these difficult conversations, we fought to erase stigma. We worked towards our ultimate goal to eradicate suicide.

I did this to honor Jordan.

Libby

CREW & RIDER

Biking the Lewis and Clark trail was a goal Isaac and I set years ago. This ride has now become something way beyond any personal goals we may have had. Jordan’s short life and her legacy of concern for those in need has given this ride a significant cause…expanding awareness, reduction, and healing of suicide in this country. After many years of volunteering in public education and nonprofits in Fort Worth, I have come to believe mental health and poverty are the two deepest chasms for health and peace for all individuals and their communities. Like one of the 31 team members in 1804 on the Corp of Discovery, I am honored to have been a part of this journey that expanded our understanding and cure of the unknown territory of suicide.

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Resources

Need help or information regarding suicide? Visit the Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation's Resources page..