This week Joe Bell began a remarkable journey with a tragic origin. Joe Bell of La Grande, OR started a two-year, 5,000 mile walk across the United States in memory of his son, Jadin.
Jadin died February 3 from complications suffered after a suicide attempt. He was only 15. Openly gay in a conservative eastern Oregon town, he was bullied mercilessly and finally gave up. The Faces for Change foundation was established in his memory; its mission is to put an end to bullying.
Joe, who has two artificial knees, will speak at schools and local organizations along his walk, spreading the anti-bullying message. What a remarkable memorial to his son. Joe shows the strength, power, and influence of LGBT allies!
Honorable mention this week goes to Teamsters Local 25 in Boston. When the ever-infamous denizens of Westboro Baptist Church threatened to picket the funeral of Krystle Campbell, a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing, the union organized a human wall. Over 1,000 members and supporters lined the streets, providing support for the family and blocking any possible view of the planned picket. Westboro gave up and opted not to demonstrate after all, a rare and welcome occurrence.
Sadly, I report with a very heavy heart that Joe Bell was struck and killed by a truck in eastern Colorado on Thursday, October 10, 2013. I have to believe the good energy Bell put out into the universe will live on and it is a call to action for us all.