Positive Pedalers: Biking for Mental Wellness
Matt was a really smart kid, he was a good kid He loved Quarter Midget Racing, he raced for 11 years, started when he was 5 years old. He was a Lego lover, a gamer. You know, did all the sort of things that kids did. Was playing guitar, had played violin when he was in third grade I think is when he started. The one thing about him is he was extremely funny, very witty, very funny. So, we lost Matt September 26, 2014. And, it was just a regular day. He went to school that day. And came home from school. He had to go to work later on that day and he talked to me, said hello, said he let the dog out, and the day went on. And then it got close to work and I realized that he hadn’t come down so I said, “huh, I better give him a call,” and I called him on the phone through the intercom and he didn’t answer so I realized I had to up And unfortunately, I found that he had made the decision to end his life. Now that time has gone by, it’s always on our mind. You never forget about your child. And you always want people to remember them. They’re always very near and dear to your heart And you certainly will never forget them. Right after it happened, when somebody dies, there’s a lot of things you have to do. There’s all the arrangements, the funeral, getting family in. I was kind of overwhelmed and really in a bad place. And it happened to be the weekend that the MS ride, which is my big city to shore ride It’s a 175 miles over two days and I had been working all summer to try and fundraise and get my body in shape for that ride And I was really looking forward to it. Of course, this changed everything. I rode really hard, because every time I felt the grief welling up inside of me and I started to cry, it was okay. And I just kept riding harder and harder. And tears kept streaming down. But, I was in my own place. And this was extremely healthy for me, for my mental health, and just let me sort of release All of the tension and bad energy inside of me. When I was done I was very tired but I felt much better. And I was able to come back and go through the funeral and continue with the rest of my life, life after Matt. So, that was something….I’d been a rider, I’d been an avid rider for awhile but this served me very well in this moment of crisis. One of the things we realized was everybody handles grief differently. So what I did is, the first thing I had to do. I had to educate myself about suicide. By doing that I learned about the Suicide Prevention Task force that was right here in Montgomery County. And I thought, “oh, I should learn about that.” So I got very involved in going to those meetings. And as I was going to the meetings I learned about the Peyton Heart Project as well. I was like I already know how to crochette so this is like a great project With a heart with an uplifting message. So why don’t I find out about this? And I did, and I was doing it all on my own And they reached out to me, the people who created it are from New Jersey, Jill Kubin and Sue Harris And they reached and said, “you know, why don’t you become an ambassador to the program? You’re doing so much already.” So I became and ambassador and by doing that the task force was like “wow, this is great” I showed them what I was doing and they asked, “Oh, can we incorporate this? Incorporate this into things we do?” And it really became such a positive mission for me and helped me Because not only was I helping other people, I was helping myself as well. So last year, I started thinking, “You know, maybe there’s a way to take what I do, and his love for biking, and do some type of event.” And it would be something that would be a positive event, which would be a great thing to you know talk about, be aware of suicide and mental health awareness. So we got together with Jill and Joe and I and we formed a little team And we got together with someone from a local bike shop, Jason, and Positive Pedalers for Mental Wellness was born Montgomery County is really blessed with the number of support services that we have That it goes much beyond just 9/11 if someone’s having a mental health crisis. But also, people that can help before it gets to a crisis situation. Part of this event is to bring awareness to those resources that we have And if you can’t come out you can still support us by giving us a check to Access Services. Or, just go on the bike reg website and there’s a donate button that goes right to Access Services. And we would really appreciate it. And it’s really in love of Matt. You know, we want to honor Matt’s memory.