Bicyclists riding across country to raise awareness for mental illness

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Nine bicyclists departed from Ocean Beach for a 3,000-mile ride to St. Augustine, Florida, to raise awareness for mental illness.

Allen Giese, founder of the Florida-based nonprofit Ride To Awareness, Plantation, organized the ride.   

Giese’s son has been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, a chronic condition that combines symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, with symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression. He has been working with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America to set up awareness events in eight major cities along their route across the southern U.S.     

Giese said mental illness is a very misunderstood disease.   

"Until my family was personally affected, I certainly didn’t understand it," Giese said.   

"That’s why this ride is so important," Giese said. "It’s not only to raise funds, which are desperately needed, but more importantly to raise awareness and remove the stigma associated with having a mental illness. Because it’s the stigma that keeps many from seeking treatment."   

He said the riders will dip their wheels into the water at Ocean Beach before launching their journey.   

They’ll be supported by two people in a donated, custom-wrapped, 34-foot- long motorhome.

Categories: KUSI