The 4th annual Suicide Awareness Bike Ride held in July and organized by Julie Deeds, her family and friends in memory of her husband, Dennis who completed suicide in October 2012, raised $10,200. The amount was shared by NAMI Four County, the Operation KAVIC (Keller Assists Veterans in Crisis) program, and the Maumee Valley Guidance Center veterans’ outreach program.
The first benefit in 2017 netted $325 and involved about 12 riders. This year’s ride included just over 100 registered motorcycles. NAMI Four County, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has been a beneficiary of the ride every year. Last year, the net proceeds were split between the three groups.
NAMI Four County will use its share of the proceeds, which included a $2,200 donation from the Wauseon VFW Post 7424, to support both youth and adult Mental Health First Aid trainings that the group offers at no cost to persons whose work or volunteer activities may bring them in contact with persons experiencing a mental health crisis. Family members and friends are also welcome to participate in the free day-long class.
Each training participant receives a comprehensive manual on behavioral health disorders that has been developed to complement the class by Mental Health First Aid USA as well as lunch and free continuing education hours.
Keller Logistics of Defiance raises money to support the KAVIC program, which assists Defiance County veterans. The Defiance County Veterans Affairs Office refers veterans with needs that are not covered by the Veterans Administration to the program.
Maumee Valley Guidance Center veterans’ outreach program serves veterans in Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams counties and also provides referrals and assistance for services that are not covered by the Veterans Administration, including time-limited financial assistance to third parties for veterans needing help with rent, utilities, moving expenses, security and utility deposits, transportation and emergency supplies.
The benefit funding that Maumee Valley has received will be used to help veterans in Fulton, Henry and Williams counties who are not eligible for KAVIC program assistance.
Although Dennis Deeds was not a veteran, his wife Julie explains that he was very patriotic and had great respect for persons who served in the military. She added that she and her son, Justin, wanted to do whatever they could with some of the proceeds to help veterans, including those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and any other mental health issue.
Pictured are representatives of the three organizations that received funding from the ride with three generations of the Deeds family. From left: Rob Spengler, NAMI Four County board member; Jenny Hoeffel, manager of Maumee Valley Guidance Center’s supportive services for veterans’ families; Julie Deeds with her grandson Bronsyn and son Justin; and Melissa Martin, Operation KAVIC coordinator.