ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Town by town, one pedal at a time, Richard Lima of Albuquerque, biked across the country to raise awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention. It’s a cause close to his heart.
“I lost a family member to suicide four months ago. So, my whole thought on this was, ‘I can’t just sit on my hands and allow another family member to be lost,'” said Lima.
Starting in North Carolina in June, Lima covered 13 states, 4,608 miles, and spent more than 300 hours on his bike. But what can’t be measured are the people and priceless stories along the way.
“To see how friendly and how kind people are, and how much people across this country want to help –especially when they found out what the ride was for,” he said. “That was so life-changing to me because I didn’t understand how prevalent this was…I’ve had women crying in my arms, crying, hugging me, telling me stories about recently losing loved ones to suicide. I had a lot of veterans telling me about …attempted suicide.”
Camping his way through his journey and documenting it all on Instagram, Lima partnered with Trek bike stores and non-profits to hold events during his stops. Along with raising awareness, the bike ride also raised money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI.
“Mental illness is extremely prevalent in this country. Suicide is extremely prevalent in this country,” said Lima.
Lima ended his 74-day ride on Tuesday in Santa Monica, California. But for him, the work isn’t done. He hopes to continue to inspire others to keep going.
“There’s help out there. You’re not alone,” he said. “Reaching out is not weakness, it’s strength.”
By auctioning off his bike and raising money online, Lima said they raised thousands of dollars for NAMI. He is already planning another ride.