Titanium longboards are—lifetime guaranteed—not supposed to snap. But when you’re longboarding for 150 miles straight, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities. Two riders on last weekend’s three-day, 150-mile longboard trip across Minnesota saw their boards snap in half—but that wasn’t going to stop them from finishing; they simply got new ones. Because this wasn’t a trip that any of the 15 participants would quit on.
Called “Push For Awareness,” the long ride aimed to raise awareness and money for depression. It was the third in three years.
After his high school friend Dylan Wade committed suicide, Jake Bailey, founder of the ride, was appalled. As Bailey put it, “Dylan had a big heart, always showing concern for others. He was the kind of kid that would always joke around with you because he enjoyed making you laugh. He really seemed to enjoy school and hanging out with friends, but rarely shared his struggles with depression.”
After Wade’s suicide in June 2013, Bailey and two other boys, Lucas Hess and Kyle Olson (who both also attended high school with Wade) wanted to stir up a conversation. One they wished could have been present while Wade was alive.
“I’ve learned what prevents a lot of people from getting the help they need is the stigma attached to depression and mental illness,” Bailey said. And he set out to change that.
To do so, the three 19-year-old boys boldly chose this three-day, 150-mile longboarding excursion, equipped with sidewalk chalk to spread awareness about Dylan, and depression. During that first year, faced with blaring heat, 22-mph wind against them, and exhausting days, thinking about Wade’s struggle pushed Olson, Hess and Bailey to the finish line.
This year, the trip raised an outstanding $6,000 for SAVE.org, almost twice 2013’s $3,100. Sticking to the same route, the riders started in Duluth, Minn., on the Alex Laveau Memorial Trail, which eventually connects to the Willard Munger Trail. The trip continues until reaching Xylite Park in Blaine. Mileage wise, the amounts deem themselves daunting. The first day consists of 70 miles, with 40 miles on both the second and third day.
In addition to broken boards, the riders were met with unavoidable challenges. On the second day, the route requires riding on Highway 61, essentially a dignified racetrack. The weather didn’t help, either—they woke up to pouring rain. But not a single rider backed out. Plus, although the conditions were tough, they received huge amounts of support along the way.
“Our first year we had no support—we were on our own riding with all our supplies in our backpacks,” Bailey said. “This year we had the support of the volunteers, and at most of our stops, restaurants, hotels, and gas stations supported us with snacks and Gatorade, breakfast, lunches and even full-course dinners after each day.”
So far, the endeavor has a perfect record of zero broken bones.
The conversation-starting work of Bailey, Hess, and Olson has made a mark in Minnesota—and beyond. Recently, SAVE.org asked Bailey to give a speech about the endeavor. He ended it on this note: “Every year we continue to grow by helping others remove the barriers others face in getting the help they need. I wish more than anything that Dylan could be one of the riders with us, but I think he would be proud to know we are making a difference on his behalf.”