Two artists perform at suicide prevention fundraiser in Cullman County

Dozens of riders revved up for mental health last month.  

Steven McDonald and Kevin Speegle co-organized Cullman County’s inaugural We Care Suicide Prevention Ride. Dozens participated, meeting up at Redline Leather & Cycle Works in Hanceville, and pitching in to donate $1,200 to WellStone’s “Be the Rock—Kids” capital campaign. 

The pair wanted to raise awareness about mental illness and suicide following tragic losses of life in their own families. 

“It was so important to create this event,” said McDonald. “I lost my cousin, Albert Tubbs, to suicide a few months ago, and my brother-in-law, Benjamin, a few years back. It’s close to our hearts and we want people to know that there are other options and people care about them.” 

WellStone Emergency Services (WES) is one of those options, providing 24/7 crisis care for individuals in mental health or substance use crisis. WES opened to adults in October 2022. The pediatric addition, still under construction, is set to open later this year.  The “Be the Rock” campaign is helping to fund these lifesaving programs. 

“One of the most sobering statistics was from 2021, where we lost someone by suicide every 11 mins,” said Paula Steele, MSW, LICSW-S, Director of WellStone Emergency Services. “I would give a training, and have an alarm set to go off every 11 minutes without explaining why until the end, then discuss how many loved ones were lost during that time.  Now when someone with suicidal thoughts walks through the door of WES, I know we have this opportunity to give them hope, we have this moment to change their trajectory and that impacts not only the individual, but their loved ones as well.”   

Maybe that’s why some 50 riders turned out for the event and participated in the 105-mile ride. The day included raffles, food, fellowship, music, time to remember loved ones lost to suicide and mental illness, and the opportunity to support WellStone’s transformational crisis care.  

“The response was great,” Speegle said. “For this many people to show up, it tells me that everyone has been affected by suicide, and everyone does care and want to help. The biker community is prety special.” 

According to the CDC, men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women. It’s one of several statistics that drives organizers to continue raising money and awareness. The Cullman natives say they’ll do the ride again next year, but do not yet have a date for 2025.