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Arlington, VA - A week after the White House Conference on Mental Health, Brian Kaplan, 39, began pedaling from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware as part of a personal odyssey to both commemorate his impending 40th birthday and support a cause that is close to his heart: NAMI's support for families who are coping with the challenges of severe mental illness.
Brian's older brother, Jay, suffers from schizophrenia and currently resides in a state mental hospital in Elgin, Illinois. After attending NAMI's national convention in Chicago (July 29-July 4th), Brian and his wife, Joan---who is traveling their route in a recreational vehicle---will visit Elgin before continuing west toward a rendezvous with the Oregon coast.
Brian and Joan are scheduled to pass through Pittsburgh on Monday, June 21; Youngstown, June 22; Cleveland, June 23; Sandusky, June 24-25; Napoleon, June 26; Kendallville, June 27 and La Porte, June 28.
Their progress can be monitored on their Website www.charitybikeride.org, and they can be contacted en route at email@example.com or by calling 404-315-0088.
For Brian, an Atlanta environmental health scientist who grew up in Chicago, NAMI has played an important role in helping to deal with the "never-ending rollercoaster" of his brother's schizophrenia. "I went to NAMI to find out how to help Jay," he said recently, describing his first NAMI Georgia support group meeting. "I became aware that mine was not the only family dealing with this problem. I heard stories from eight to ten families who had gone through similar experiences. More importantly, I got advice about how to deal with it. I only wish it hadn't taken me so long to find them."
By bicycling 3,500 miles across America this summer, Brian hopes to promote greater awareness of mental illness and NAMI and to help create new roads for families searching for ways to cope.
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