Just months after his son hanged himself, a grieving father with two artificial knees is walking across the country to create awareness and help put an end to bullying.
Joe Bell will walk for two years in memory of his son, Jadin. The 15-year-old from Oregon attempted to commit suicide in January and consequently died after being a victim of gay bullying, his family said.
Bell, who started his journey on April 20, is walking 15 to 25 miles a day, according to The Columbian.
“When a child is bullied there are usually a lot witnesses,” Bell, who quit his job to embark on the walk, told the La Grande Observer. “Not doing anything is not acceptable. are just as guilty. They are saying that it is acceptable.”
The grieving father is being backed by anti-bullying foundation Faces for Change. During his trip, he’ll stop to speak at schools and different gatherings regarding bullying. The La Grande Observer pointed out that Bell could be the first man to walk cross-country with two replaced knees.
Jadin Bell, a high school sophomore, died on Feb. 3, after attempting to hang himself at an elementary school in La Grande, Oregon.
Close family friend Bud Hill told the Komo News that Bell had suffered of intense in-person and cyberbullying due to his sexuality.
“If someone was down and out he would walk into a room and say a couple quick words and everybody would just forget about their problems and smile. He just had a gift,” Hill said.
“He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones.”
Over 200 people attended a candlelight vigil for Bell on Jan. 25, according to the La Grande Observer.
Family and friends remembered him as an outgoing member of the cheerleading team, his passion.
Joe Bell said New York City will be an especially emotional stop on his walk: “Jadin wanted to someday live in New York City.”