LaGrande’s Joe Bell has begun a walk across the United States in memory of his son. 15 -year-old Jadin Bell died by suicide in February, after telling school officials he’d been bullied for being openly gay.
Joe Bell says he came to the idea of going on the road shortly after he lost Jadin. The boy hanged himself, and was taken to a Portland hospital where he later died.
“After coming back from Doernbecher,” Bell says, was laying in my bed, wanting to die. Having that feeling of emptiness. I knew I could not.”
Bell has another son and a daughter. He wanted to get through it for them. So how far, he wondered, would he have to travel to walk through his feelings. “So I decided I needed to walk across the United States.”
Bell started out after a community pancake breakfast in LaGrande.
He hopes to walk eight hours a day, with a route taking him through Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, and east, ending in New York City. He’ll push a cart filled with essentials, camping some nights, catching hotels when possible.
Bell says along the way, he’ll talk to as many people as he can about raising kids to understand difference, and raising money for the non-profit founded in Jadin Bell’s name.