Two Friends From MoCo to Bike Over 4,000 Miles to Raise Money For Teen Suicide Prevention
In mid-April, 2021, two young adults who grew up in MOCO will begin an incredible journey to end teen suicide. Mental Health activists and friends, Heath Saffer and Omar Baloch will embark on a 4,300 mile bicycle trek across the country, muscling through everything the elements throw at them.
The trek, officially named CYCLE4LIFE was born from their desire to end teen suicide and the stigma that goes with mental health illnesses. Saffer and Baloch lost their dearest childhood friend, Devon Rubenstein, to suicide in 2015. At destinations along their journey, Heath and Omar will meet with young people who are riding along on their own mental health journeys, blogging about their insights, observations and mental health experiences.
Cycle4Life is a locally-inspired, national effort benefitting two local 501(c)(3)’s: The Devon C. Rubenstein Foundation (DCRF) and Our Minds Matter (OMM), who work hand-in-hand, striving for the day when no teen dies by suicide. Heath and Omar hope that their cross-country journey, from Seattle to the Eastern Shore of Delaware, creates increased awareness of the 6,000+ young lives lost per year to suicide. The timing of their effort could not be more critical as teens are reporting higher rates of depression and anxiety then ever before, according to the CDC.
Experts predict mental health will be the next public health crisis following COVID-19. In spite of this news, most American school systems still are not equipped to provide adequate mental health support to students. “As COVID-19 has disrupted the already limited support systems for mental health in public schools, Our Minds Matter helpes fill this service gap.” reports Lauren Anderson, Our Minds Matter’s Executive Director. “Our Minds Matter (OMM) bolsters students’ mental health protective factors before there is a crisis.
Collectively, Heath and Omar, along with DCRF and OMM, hope to raise a minimum of $50,000 to expand OMM’s network of student-led mental wellness clubs. $50,000 would enable the creation of 20 additional OMM clubs across the country, impacting the lives and mental health of thousands of kids. OMM’s student-led clubs change their school’s culture around mental health by increasing coping skills, social connectedness, help-seeking behavior and prosocial skills among teens. For the past nine years, OMM has provided in-school mental health support to approximately 150 schools and thousands of students.
DCRF and OMM appreciate the support of early event sponsors: Accurate Record & Tax Services, Inc., Cresa, Dulles Golf Center & Sports Park, KCIC, Korth Construction and Rogers Behavioral Health.
For additional information, please contact Leslie Kern, Director of Marketing & Board Member, at
[email protected]. Or by phone at 301.502.8186.