Brandon Marshall Foundation Ride

Around 150 bikers revved up their engines at Linden Oaks out patient facility this morning to ride for a reason.

They were all part of the first ever Mental Health Awareness Ride to raise money and gain exposure for the Brandon Marshall Foundation.

Marshall and his wife Michi were on hand to meet the riders. He also shared his own story. Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2010. He said it’s harder in our society for men to talk about mental illness.

“It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength,” said Marshall to the crowd. “In the men’s community, we don’t talk about it. And if you look at our school systems and you look at our marriages, and corporations, and our government – I really believe that if we were healthier, we would be stronger. The women somehow find a way to be stronger than us. We’re supposed to be macho. So men, we need to get it together.”

After hearing from Marshall it was time to hit the road. The bikers traveled down Route 34 to Oswego High School and then down Route 71 to the Starved Rock Harley Davidson store in Ottawa.

To ride the motorcycle drivers paid $20 and passengers paid $10, with all the proceeds going to the foundation.

The idea for the event came from the Starved Rock Harley Davidson one of the managers has family members with mental illness so she wrote to Marshall’s foundation and the event was born. The store owners, were happy to help.

“If you look at all we see in the news, the topic is now finally switching from guns to mental health and I think that’s what we need to be concentrating on,” said Tom Eiden, Co-Owner of Starved Rock Harley Davidson. “I think it’s wonderful to be connected with it, I think it’s wonderful that Brandon is doing it.”

Marshall’s organization has a mission of ending the stigma associated with mental illness. They hope to advocate for awareness, connect those suffering with resources and paint the world lime green, the official color of mental health awareness.

Bears fans may remember last season when Marshall was fined for wearing lime green cleats during a game as part of an awareness effort.

Organizers said the turnout blew away their expectations and they were thrilled to get the word out about mental health.

“For a first time effort this amazing,” said Eiden. “Many people think you say you’re going to do something with motorcycles and you get 1,000 bikes. You don’t. If you can get 50, you’re doing well. This is already at 130, I would imagine we will top out at 150 and that’s going to be a terrific ride.

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