HARRISONBURG — The fourth annual Ride to Fight Suicide took place Saturday at Blue Ridge Power Sports.
The event is designed to spread awareness and work toward preventing suicide by hosting a group motorcycle ride through the area followed by live music, raffles and food.
The event raised money for both Mission 22, a charity taking steps to reduce the rate of veteran suicide throughout the country, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"We bring awareness to the fact that we lose 22 veterans a day and also the money that we raise goes to run veteran treatment programs. We are in the top 1% of charities where 90% of the money that we have coming in goes directly to veteran treatment programs," said Jeremy Braithwaite, ambassador of Mission 22.
During an interview, Markita Madden-Puckett, a board member for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, expressed her personal connection to the cause while fighting back tears.
"To see the community come out and support this takes my breath away," she said. "I have lost three family members since 2005. I lost a brother in 2006, my father in 2016 and another brother in 2017."
Madden-Puckett said her goals for the event include to bring attention to the issue and reach people who may be struggling.
"Anything that will raise awareness, break down stigma, and help people understand that they are not alone in this struggle and give them an opportunity to seek help and know where resources are," she said.
According to Mark Ham, one of the organizers, there were around 200 motorcycles that rode for the cause, almost double the amount of support at last year's event.