Bicycling 4,500 miles during some of the hottest months of the year may not be the way most college students want to spend their summer vacation. But five Baylor University students are doing just that, riding from Waco to Anchorage, Alaska, to call attention to the problem of suicide and depression.
Their “Alive Campaign” spent Friday night in Brownwood, just one day after they began their journey in Waco. After spending the night with Travis and Jessica Noble of Brownwood and meeting Howard Payne University representatives for breakfast, the group headed north to Abilene.
The students are making the ride to fulfill a promise they made to a friend who was threatening suicide.
“We are the richest country in the world, but studies have shown we are the saddest, and most depressed,” Alive Campaign co-founder Justin Brown of El Paso said. “We are lonely with our riches, following the American Dream. Go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, and repeat. The illusion that our lives have limits cause our massive dependency on drugs, on materialism and lusts…. This trek, this adventure to Alaska, is to prove that humans don't have limits. You can do anything you set your mind to.”
Brown said their friend was telling them that he had nothing to live for.
“So we gave him something to live for,” Brown said. “Keep us in your prayers, and be alive.”
“These students made a vow back in November to a close friend who had attempted suicide,” Lori W. Fogleman, Baylor’s director of media relations, said. “If their Facebook group to bring awareness to suicide prevention reached 250,000 friends, they would do something out of the ordinary — like ride bikes from Waco to Alaska.”
Remarkably, their Facebook group reached that number in just 13 days.
“These are some amazing Baylor students, and their Alive Campaign is inspiring a nation to take action against this taboo subject,” Fogleman said.
According to the group’s Web site, www.alivecampaign.org, suicide in the third leading cause of death for Americans ages 15 to 24.
The students are riding with a van painted to reflect their cause, completing between 40 to 100 miles per day. They have rest days scheduled periodically throughout their schedule, with is targeted to end in Anchorage on July 30. They will drive back to Waco that week.