Press Releases

Coast-to-Coast "Ride for Awareness" Heads Into Final Stretch

Oregon Bicyclist Leaves Louisiana for Mississippi, Alabama & Florida

Oct 08 1999

Arlington, VA - As Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) draws to a close, Ashley ("Ash") Trace is headed into the final stretch of a solo coast- to-coast bicycle ride across the United States. He is raising awareness of the role of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and the treatment of severe mental illnesses.

Ash, 36, of Portland, Oregon, left San Diego on September 15th and last night rested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Ash will pedal to Coden, Alabama, on Saturday and arrive in Pensacola, Florida, on Monday. He is scheduled to complete his journey on Saturday, October 16, in San Augustine, after covering about 100 miles per day. Along the way, he has stayed with NAMI families and spoken to local media and mental illness support groups.

Ash's sister, Deedra, 34, lives in Seattle and has schizophrenia, a brain disorder that affects approximately two million Americans, or between one and two percent of the population.

"We are very proud of Ash," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn. "His ride for awareness is a labor of love and a symbol of the kind of dedication and commitment that all NAMI families have for parents, spouses, children, and siblings who must deal with mental illness."

"It is important for people to realize that they are not alone in their struggle," Flynn said. "Mental illnesses are biological brain disorders. Treatment is available-although sometimes we have to fight for it. Treatment does work, and there is hope for a future that includes recovery."

"When Deedra got sick two years ago, my family learned about mental illness," Ash noted before his ride began. "She didn't choose to be sick. The things she has to deal with us are bigger than us. I am not a doctor or researcher. I can't find a cure. But I can draw attention to mental illness and demonstrate how NAMI provides support to families like ours. I also will be proud to tell them about Deedra. She is a wonderful friend and forever my sister."