NAMES… Crosses line the street of those in the area that have been victims of suicide. The names on the crosses show that they have been lost but not forgotten. (PHOTOS BY JACOB KESSLER, STAFF)
By: Jacob Kessler
The 5th annual Suicide Awareness Ride took place in Wauseon on Saturday the 17th. Motorcycles riders met at the VFW Hall in Wauseon at 9am to register before leaving at 11:30am to head out for their ride.
Julie Deeds is the event organizer and started the event after losing her husband to suicide back in 2012. “I ride, my son rides and all of my friends ride. One day I was just sitting and thought, what if I do an awareness ride? What would happen,” said Julie.
That is exactly what Julie did. The first year started off with around 12 people showing up but by 2020 it had reached over 100. “If I can save even just one soul out of all of this, then it was worth my time,” said Julie.
To gain money riders pay a registration fee for the ride. There is also a DJ, food, silent auction, door prizes, a 50/50 and t-shirt sales. Julie gets help and support for her ride from volunteers to donations.
This year Tammy’s Walk for Domestic Violence in Toledo donated all of their auction items to Julie due to not having their event this year from COVID. Artistic Tattoo in Toledo has also been a big help and paid for a hog to be cooked.
Money that is donated to the ride goes to the National Alliance of Mental Illness with Four County, Keller Assist Veterans in Crisis and Maumee Valley Guidance Veterans Assistance Program.
This year the event was able to raise around $9,500 that will go to these organizations. As people drove by the VFW hall during the event, they saw balloons lining the fence and the crosses on the ground. The crosses were placed in front with a person’s name listed on it who was a victim of suicide.
The names were submitted to the Awareness Ride by loved ones or friends of those that were victims of suicide.
The names and age of those listed on Saturday are as follows: Dennis Deeds – 49, Krista R Craig – 18, Darren Wurzelbacher – 20, Johnny Pozniak – 28, Allen “AJ” Wiemkin – 19, Gary Taynor – 69, Dustin Micheal Cope – 25, John Junge – 20, David Rawlings – 21, Tracy Williams Thomas Sr. – 56, Robert A Barth – 22, Micha Homan – 13, Cody Sobczak – 7, Micheal Smith – 55, Justin Caris – 29, K.C. Rochte – 51, Rachel Paul – 16, Manuel “Niko” Gutierrez IV – 24.
If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, please know that you are not alone. There are multiple resources available to you out there including the ones listed above.
One resource in particular is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and they can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
Jacob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
ORGANIZATIONS… The people pictured above represent the local organizations that will be receiving the donations. Pictured are: Justin Deeds, Julie Deeds, Wendy Jennings from NAMI Four County, Jenny Hoeffel from Maumee Valley, and Mike Ramirez from Keller Assists Veterans.