MISSOULA — A retired police officer from North Carolina is pedaling his way across the country to support families of fellow law enforcement officers and first responders who’ve died by suicide but that’s not why Christopher Lowrance started his journey.
We met up with him in downtown Missoula, about 1,000 miles into his trip that started in Astoria, Oregon and will end in Yorktown, Virginia. He told us he started this journey as a way to take a mental health break after more than 28 years in law enforcement.
It's a way for Lowrance to experience firsthand the wonders of America and its people after what's been a very rough year.
Essentially, Lowrance was looking for the good things out there in the world after experiencing some of the worst while on the job. But he also connected with a group called “Blue Help” and is calling his ride “a Penny for Their Thoughts.” It’s an effort to support families of officers who’ve taken their own lives.
He says we must stop stigmatizing suicide and feels his ride is symbolic of what many officers experience.
“I get to a hill and maybe I can’t ride up it. So, I get off my bike and I walk. And it’s one foot in front of the other until I get to the top of the hill. And the ride’s going to be easy for a little bit but there’s going to be another hill,” Lowrance said.
“There are going to be things in life you’re going to have to encounter but you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And if it gets so bad, I can’t push up that hill? I’ll ask someone in a car for help. And that’s what people need to do, to ask for a little bit of help,” he concluded.
Lowrance is sharing his journey on his A Penny for Their Thoughts Facebook page. By the time he's done, he’ll have ridden more than 4,200 miles along the Trans-America Bike route, raising money for “Blue Help”. He's raised more than $14,000 so far.
Lowrance is on his way to West Yellowstone to meet up with family before heading back out on the road.