Local Motorcycle Club Hosts Suicide Awareness Ride

The Red Knights Motorcycle Club, Chapter 39 of Altoona and Tyrone held a benefit motorcycle ride for Suicide Awareness on September 7, 2019.  The ride began at the Hookies Fire Hall in Tyrone and earned $2,163 for the Blair County Suicide Prevention Task Force

Three clubs came together for the benefit ride. It was hosted by the local chapter and attended also by the New York Chapter 35 and Pennsylvania Chapter 38.

Red Knights member and event organizer Michelle Keith hopes that the ride can help to bring the issue of suicide out of the shadows.

We shouldn’t be silent. We should be vigilant about speaking, listening, helping and simply being kind to others”

— Michelle Keith

“I found that after my father-in-law took his life there just wasn’t enough discussion about suicide. There’s a stigma behind it that people think it’s something that shouldn’t be discussed. In fact, it is the opposite. We shouldn’t be silent. We should be vigilant about speaking, listening, helping and simply being kind to others,” said Keith.

The Red Knights are an international motorcycle club made up of mostly  firefighters and first responders. Founded in 1982, there are now more than 300 Red Knights chapters and 9,000 members throughout the world. Many of members of the club are first responders who have responded to suicides and have been personally affected by the tragedy.  

The 118 mile ride started early afternoon with 60 riders on a route through Blair, Centre and Huntington County, with three stops at fire departments along the way.  There were several committees within the motorcycle club and they each had a job to do preparing for the ride. Many of the volunteers were from the Hookies Fire Department and the fire departments along the route. 

“For our first benefit ride I’m very pleased with how everything turned out. We all worked hard to make this event successful,” said Red Knights Vice President Todd Keith.

The money raised was donated to the Blair County Suicide Prevention Task Force.  The task force provides help locally through education to schools, medical personnel, first responders. They have support groups and provide professional services to those in need of counseling. 

The ride was publicized in the local news media including radio, newspapers and two TV stations, bringing further attention to the issue of suicide and mental health. 

“Suicide isn’t a topic to stay quiet about. Suicide prevention is everybody’s business, and anyone can help prevent the tragedy of suicide,” said Keith.