On Saturday, Joe Bell left his home in Oregon to begin a projected two-year walk across the United States to raise money and support for anti-bullying programs. In January, Bell’s 15-year-old son Jadin attempted suicide by hanging himself on an elementary school playground in La Grande, Ore. The teen died two weeks later, on Feb. 3. His family believes he killed himself because he was constantly bullied at school for being gay.
Bell will walk 5,000 miles from Oregon, dipping down into some southern states (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana) and then up through Pennsylvania and New York before finally finishing along the Delaware coastline. Along the way, he will pop into schools to give lectures on the effects of bullying and to promote Faces for Change, an anti-bullying foundation that was established after Jadin’s passing. In an article in the La Grande Observer, Bell says his trek through Philadelphia will be symbolic, because an eighth-grade trip Jadin took to some of Philly’s historical sites was “the highlight of his life.”