Father Hosts Charity Ride For Mental Health Awareness To Honor Late Son

By Britni de la Cretaz 06/29/17
“If people break their arm, you fix it,” Dorris told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “If people have mental illness, we’ve got to find better ways to fix it.”
Image: 
a group of cyclists participating in the charity ride
Photo credit: Johnny Hsu

A grieving father felt like he needed to do something to help other people avoid his son’s fate. Mac Dorris’ 21-year-old son Eric died of an accidental overdose in 2016. At the time, he’d been seeking help for his depression and borderline personality disorder through an outpatient program at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts.

At the time of Eric’s death, he had been living in a sober house. In an attempt to do something meaningful, Dorris set up at fund at McLean in his son’s name but felt like it wasn’t enough. Dorris, an avid cyclist, told the Poughkeepsie Journal, “I felt a responsibility to use my skills to see how we could leverage this into more.” Modeled after other charity rides that Dorris was familiar with, he organized “Eric’s Ride” in memory of his “kind, funny and amazing” son.

“If people break their arm, you fix it,” Dorris told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “If people have mental illness, we’ve got to find better ways to fix it.”

Participants in Eric's Ride Photo credit: Johnny Hsu

There have been other rides for addiction awareness, too. In April, more than 500 people turned out for the 14th annual Tour de Scranton bike ride and 5k walk, which was in memory of Erin Moreken, who died of a drug overdose.

"If we can help someone in their recovery, whether somebody young or even older, many people my age are getting addicted to pain medications they take," Tom Moreken, Erin's father, told WNEP.

And in May, dozens of motorcyclists rode in Chicopee, Massachusetts to remember people who had died from drug addiction and to raise money for people still struggling. The Fallen Angels Bike Run was organized by the Anthony Cavallini House, and raised money to help those fighting addiction. The common thread seems to be that people feel like raising money and raising awareness are key components of fighting the disease.

In New York, a non-profit is using bikes in a different way to help people who struggle with addiction — Freedom Machines gives people bikes so they can get around town. "I found that biking was a great stress relief," co-founder Chris Collins told the Times Union. 

“People talk about drug problems. They don’t talk about mental illness issues,” Dorris told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “We’re going to work hard to do something that will save other people from the fate that Eric had.”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.

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