LA GRANDE, Ore. -- A father in eastern Oregon is getting ready for the journey of a lifetime: a walk that could take two years in memory of his son who committed suicide.
There's no question in La Grande, Oregon, population 13,000, that Jadin Bell stood out. He was the only guy on the cheer leading team and a 15-year-old with a sense of style all his own. It gained him friends and enemies.
“People yelling obscenities at him as he’s walking home, throwing things at him from vehicles, on the internet,” said his dad Joe Bell.
He knew his son was gay, and he knew that was causing problems at school for awhile. In January, things got really bad.
“You could just see the pain in him,” Bell said.
By the time counselors and the school addressed the problem; it may have been too late. Jan. 19, Jadin Bell hanged himself at a playground. He survived two weeks before dying at a Portland hospital.
In memory of his son, Joe Bell is about to leave La Grande on an epic walking tour of the country. From the west, to the Deep South, to the east coast, he figures it will take him two years to cover 5,000 miles.
He'll tell Jadin's story to anyone who will listen.
“You want to make a difference in a child’s life. If I can save just one child from committing suicide, it’s worth that walk,” he said. “Children don’t see what’s past high school. There’s a whole other world out there. It gets better,” he said.
Joe bell will carry Jadin's story far to remind families everywhere. He quit his job of 17 years. He's dipped into his 401K. He has a backpack, a tent and a map. He leaves Saturday.