By Joey May, Hiawatha World
It’s time to ride for KJ’s “I Believe” Fight Against Suicide. And this year’s event also features a nationally known suicide prevention speaker, Jeff Yalden.
The second annual event will kick off on Saturday, Sept. 12, with a benefit ride and auction, along with a band to benefit the Kyler Wayne Jones Memorial Fund. Kyler, the son of Betty Jones and Rick Jones of Hiawatha, passed away the spring of his sophomore year at Hiawatha High School in 2014.
The route has expanded for this year’s ride. Registration (all types of vehicles are welcome) will be at 9 a.m. at Wild Bill’s Bar & Grill in Rulo. There is a fee of $20 for pilot and $15 for co-pilot, $5 second hand. At 11 a.m., kickstands are up and the ride begins.
Riders will travel to Hickory Road in Auburn, then to the Would Eye at Falls City, where they will stop for lunch. From there, the ride will turn south along U.S. 73 Highway through Hiawatha on the way to Muellers at Atchison.
At roughly 1:45-2 p.m., riders will be traveling southbound along First Street in Hiawatha, with an escort by the Hiawatha Police Department. Organizers are asking community members to come out and line First Street to show their support of the event.
From Muellers in Atchison, the riders will travel back to Wild Bill’s Bar and Grill at Rulo, for the auction, food and a band. Donated items for the auction are still being accepted — contact event organizers Jim Brennan (741-1614) or Kelly Pendleton (741-0620) to make a donation.
Money from the memorial fund established on Kyler’s behalf by friends and family members goes directly towards suicide prevention programs, along with annual scholarships to the youth in the area. A main focus of the fund is to raise awareness of not only teen suicide, but suicide in general.
Last year’s kick-off event was a spectacular success, organizers said, and they hope to bring even more riders, raise more funds and raise more awareness this year — adding in a teen suicide/depression mental health speaker Jeff Yalden for three local special events for youth and the public.
“Bringing Jeff was made possible through donations and last year’s ride, along with other fundraisers and donations,” said Betty Jones.
Jones said she read about Yalden in “The Hog” magazine, watched his amazing videos and contacted him about speaking to local youth and members of the community.
“He is honest, he gets it,” she said. “He is very straight forward and talks about life’s experiences.”
Yalden has been considered one of America’s No. 1 youth motivational speakers since 1992. Yalden overcame depression and suicidal tendencies himself to fight his way back to healing. He made life-transforming choices and decided to use his darkest hours to help today’s youth transform their own lives.
He has spoken to millions of people in all 50 states and 48 countries. He is an author, with a best-selling book “Your Life Matters,” hosts his own radio show “The Jeff Yalden Show” and is a one of the world’s most requested teen motivational speakers. Seventy million viewers know him as “Life Coach” on MTV’s longest-running reality show, MADE. He offers once-a-month training through his website (JeffYalden.com/training) for suicide prevention for teachers, administrators, coaches, parents and community health professionals.
Yalden will be hosting three local events for youth and community members. On Monday, Sept. 14, Yalden will be at Memorial Auditorium in downtown Hiawatha, speaking to the students from Hiawatha, Horton and Kickapoo Nation high schools, starting at 9 a.m.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, Yalden will be speaking at Falls City High School to their students, along with those from Sacred Heart High School, starting at 9:30 a.m.
The evening of Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 6 o’clock, Yalden will be speaking to parents and community members at Hiawatha High School in Hiawatha.
“This is a huge step towards our goal and we are excited to have him,” organizers of the “I Believe” Fight Against Suicide said. They encourage community members and youth to visit his Website at jeffyalden.com.
“I Believe” T-shirts are being pre-sold on the event’s Facebook page and proceeds go back into the fund. Financial donations are also being accepted and can be mailed to P.O. Box 24 Robinson, KS 66532 or call Kelly Pendleton (741-0620) or Jim Brennan (741-1614) to pledge your support. Donations can be sent directly to Citizen’s State Bank to the Kyler Wayne Jones Memorial Fund. Contact them to make a donation toward the auction for the Sept. 12 Benefit Ride.