Motorcycle ride raises awareness about veteran suicide

Motorcycle ride raises awareness about veteran suicide
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 10:36 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A motorcycle ride spanning 22 days across 2,200 miles and 22 checkpoints raises awareness and funds to combat veteran suicide. The repetitive use of the number 22 is to represent the 22 veterans on average that take their own lives every day across the nation.

Ken Andrus is the founder and director of Alaska’s 22-Hundred Ride and belongs to a military motorcycle club called the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.

The "Green Knights" military motorcycle club.
The "Green Knights" military motorcycle club.(Lexi Yelverton)

Before anyone takes off on the ride, each of the riders begins spreading awareness and reaching out to the community.

“The riders are asked to go get 22 pledges and ask 22 people to pledge a penny per mile that they ride on the ride,” Andrus said. “If they do all 2,200 miles of the ride then of course they have 22 dollars from the person that pledged that.”

Each of the riders has 22 days from July 1-22 to reach as many checkpoints as they can. As riders arrive at checkpoints across Alaska, they continue to raise money. The checkpoints for this year’s ride included Anchorage, Homer, Eureka, Glennallen, Tok, Fairbanks, Chicken, Nenana, Valdez, Palmer, Knik, Hope, Soldotna or Kenai, Wasilla and more communities across Alaska.

In each of the locations, the riders encourage people to go in and have a conversation about the fundraiser and the importance of getting the issue fixed. They hope that by acting they have the opportunity to invoke the conversation and allow the prevention of veteran suicide.

Andrus said that he’s been heavily impacted by veterans who’ve taken their lives.

“I’ve had too many — way too many friends — most recently my organization, we lost a couple,” Andrus said. “The hate that you have when you feel like you’re a day late, it’s tough.”

Through each checkpoint they aim to spread awareness and gain support, hoping that the statistic of veteran suicides will go down.

“If someone is saying or having thoughts of suicide it should be taken seriously and not overlooked,” Andrus said.

The riders believe that if there’s a single chance of saving just one more, then the ride and the advocacy will have been worth it.

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