The father of a gay Oregon teen who committed suicide in February is planning a cross-country tribute in honor of his son.
As The Columbian is reporting, Joe Bell will walk across the United States over the course of two years in memory of his 15-year-old son Jadin. Bell, who set out from his home state of Oregon on Saturday, will walk 15 to 25 miles a day, according to the report.
“When a child is bullied there are usually a lot [of] witnesses," Bell, who resigned from his job at Boise Cascade in embark on the walk, told the La Grande Observer. "Not doing anything is not acceptable. [Those who watch and do nothing] are just as guilty. They are saying that it is acceptable.”
Bell is expected to speak at schools on behalf of Faces for Change, an anti-bullying foundation that was established in his son's memory, along the way. He says his stop in New York will be particularly significant: “Jadin wanted to someday live in New York City."
Calling Bell's trip a "testament to the marvels of modern medicine," the Observer points out that he may be the first person to walk across the U.S. with two artificial knees. His son Joseph and wife Lola will visit him throughout the journey.
Jadin Bell died Feb. 3 after attempting to hang himself at an elementary school in La Grande, Ore. He was rushed to an area hospital Jan. 19 before being airlifted to Portland, and was eventually taken off of life support on or around Jan. 29, according to reports.
Family friend Bud Hill, who said he considered Bell his nephew, told Komo News that the high school sophomore had been the victim of intense bullying both in person and on the Internet because he was gay.
"He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones," Hill said at the time. "If someone was down and out he would walk into a room and say a couple quick words and everybody would just forget about their problems and smile. He just had a gift."
Read more about "Joe's Walk For Change" here.