VEKA Group announced its support for mental health and suicide prevention, which is part of its vision of "We Care. We Act. We Grow." VEKA Group will engage in targeted events for its employees around mental health and suicide prevention.
“Many of us have friends, co-workers or family members that struggle with depression and mental health issues," says Joe Peilert, president of VEKA North America. "Living through the COVID pandemic has been particularly difficult for many individuals. As a business and employer in our community, we want to communicate that we care, it is okay not to be okay, and talk about it.”
Inspiration for these events began with the British charity "We Mind and Kelly Matters." Founder John Hewitt, a former VEKA fabrication partner, lost his daughter, Kelly, to suicide in 2018. With his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Amy, he founded the organization to help both sufferers and loved ones in the fight against mental illness. Learn their story.
The Loneliest Road: Kelly’s Heroes Bike Ride
Expanding upon a 2020 UK bike tour for mental health awareness, the Loneliest Road tour covers both Europe and North America. The European tour begins on Sept. 10, World Suicide Prevention Day. The American tour starts on Sept. 24, in New Jersey. It follows US Route 50, designated as "The Loneliest Road in America," and ends in San Francisco on Oct. 10, World Mental Health Day. Kelly’s Heroes’ goal for the Loneliest Road tour is to bike 52,000 miles, the equivalent of biking around the world twice, symbolizing that with mental health, for an honest answer, you should always ask twice to see if someone is okay.
It is John Hewitt’s wish that all monetary donations raised in support of the American ride go towards local U.S. charity programs, to generate awareness and support as part of an ongoing, global effort.
In 2022, VEKA is the main sponsor on both continents. VEKA asks its partners to join them in sponsoring this event. One hundred percent of tax-deductible contributions will be allocated across the U.S. to participating chapters of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The U.S. team of riders will cover their individual costs as contributions, while VEKA North America will handle all administrative costs for each event planned, to guarantee that 100 percent of donations go to the charities.
VEKA North American employees will join the effort by contributing their mileage from a stationary bike, standard bike, run, walk or swim in a competition between plants. The goal is to be the first to reach 3,343 miles, the distance that riders will cover in the U.S.
VEKA hopes the Kelly's Heroes bike ride generates a high level of media attention for suicide prevention, through various channels before and during the rides. VEKA will champion its efforts through events, social media, local, international and industry press.