WAUSEON — The fifth annual Dennis Deeds Suicide Awareness bike ride held Saturday benefitting NAMI Four County and two area groups assisting veterans in need raised some $9,500, according to Julie Deeds. About 90 persons participated in the ride as well as raffles and a silent auction that were part of the event.

Julie’s husband, Dennis, completed suicide in October 2012. Five years later, Julie, her son Justin, and their friends organized the first ride to raise suicide awareness and designated NAMI Four County, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as the ride’s beneficiary. That ride raised $325 and involved about 12 riders.

Over the years, the benefit has raised $26,275 for NAMI’s free community suicide awareness programs and two area organizations that provide assistance for veterans in need — Maumee Valley Guidance Center’s veterans outreach program and KAVIC (Keller Assists Veterans in Crisis).

NAMI Four County will use its share of the proceeds, which included a $2,000 donation from Wauseon VFW Post 7424, to support both youth and adult Mental Health First Aid trainings that the group offers numerous times throughout the year at no cost to persons whose work or volunteer activities may bring them in contact with persons experiencing a mental health crisis. Family members and friends of persons living with a mental illness are also welcome to participate in the day-long class.

Keller Logistics of Defiance raises money to support the KAVIC program, which assists Defiance County veterans. The Defiance County Veterans Affairs Office refers veterans with needs that are not covered by the Veterans Administration to the program.

Maumee Valley Guidance Center veterans outreach program serves veterans in Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams counties by providing referrals and assistance for services that are not covered by the Veterans Administration, including time-limited financial assistance to third parties for veterans needing help with rent, utilities, moving expenses, security and utility deposits, transportation and emergency supplies.

The benefit funding that Maumee Valley receives will be used to help veterans in Fulton, Henry and Williams counties who are not eligible for KAVIC assistance.

Although Dennis Deeds was not a veteran, his wife Julie explained that he was very patriotic and had great respect for persons who served in the military. She added that she and her son wanted to do whatever they could with some of the proceeds to help veterans, including those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and any other mental health issue.

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