Father's Anti-Bullying Trek to Honor His Dead Son Ends in Tragedy

Joe BellSome stories are just so heartbreaking, you don't even know where to start writing, or how to start wrapping your mind around what happened. That's the case with the story of Joe Bell, the Oregon father who was walking across the country to raise awareness about his gay son.

Jaden Bell was only 15 years old when he committed suicide last year, after being relentlessly bullied; Joe Bell was killed last week, struck by a truck on the side of the road in Colorado.

Just like his child's life, Bell's mission was cut brutally and senselessly short, but their messages were not.

This courageous dad's plan was simple: To make change, to shed light and awareness on a dark, sick part of our society's soul, and to encourage parents to love and protect their own gay children, as all children should be loved and cherished. After his child hung himself from a piece of playground equipment, Bell made it his mission to walk -- to walk from Oregon to New York City, the place where his son once dreamed about living and working.

I know all too well that to lose a loved one to suicide is unbearable. And yet, somehow, you do bear it, because the alternative is not an option. I can understand the compulsion Joe obviously felt to DO something, to walk, to move, to take some kind of action, to find a way to fight back against what happened to his son, and to try to keep it from happening to someone else's child.

Bell shared updates about his walk on his Joe's Walk for Change Facebook page, and scrolling through the status updates and photos is terribly saddening -- but also moving and uplifting. To see all the people that Bell reached, and who reached out to him, is incredible, humbling, and restores a little bit of my faith in humanity.

Joe's walk was not for nothing. He made a difference. He leaves behind his partner, Lola Lathrop, and three other children who will hopefully be able to take some small comfort in the fact that their loved one died a hero.

Joe's post on Facebook for October 9th reads: "Making headway, one step at a time."

You took many, many steps Joe, and made a real difference in the world.  

I'm not religious, but I do believe that now Joe is with his son, somewhere, somehow, protected from pain and sorrow. And it's up to the rest of us to continue to make this world we live in a better, more open and tolerant place.

Is there anything worse than losing a child?


Image via Joe's Walk for Change/Facebook

death, in the news, bullies


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Kacie Schleis

Not all heroes wear uniforms. RIP Joe.

jessi... jessicasmom1

it is hard to loose a loved one

Mamma... MammaSan13

You think your own love for your child would be enough to shelter them from other people's hate.  It is scary to realize how often it is not.  Bless them both and hopefully they are both at peace now.

Austi... Austinsmommy12

No. There's nothing worse than losing your child, except losing your child to an unnatural cause or senseless violence. I'm not downplaying a child dying of cancer or a car accident, because that's truly awful, but one who dies of suicide or murder or something equally violent is in its own category.

Panda... PandaPop83

Yes. The knowing HOW they died is worst than the actual act itself. That's what eats us even more. We burden ourselves with thoughts of how we could do things differently. I do it everyday. And that happens when you feel inedaquate to the loss. It was something unexpected. There was nothing and everything you could have done different. This dad took all the strength he could muster up and provided awareness. He went cross country! His loss drove him to do that because if not his son would have died in vain. This father truly loved his son, and that's what make this story so heartbreaking. These days, you hear of more parents hurting their children. I sense parents' love for their children deminishing more and more everyday, then something tragic happens to those who prove their child's worth. It's incerdibly sad. RIP Joe Bell

IKatc... IKatchSkams

God give us the wisdom, courage, knowledge and strength to continue to do the right thing by all living creatures...very much the way this beloved family man tried to find purpose through his actions to continue to do right by people...Getting his story out seemed to take on a life...a purpose of it's own. May the good fight, to do right by others continue as if a lesson in life was waiting to unfold, behold then be told for the benefit of all who dare to step outside of their comfort zone...

ktobin2 ktobin2

At least they're together again.

hopea... hopealways4019

I lost my son to cancer last year, my life is forever changed. Im left with just memories good ones, sad ones. I wish so bad that i could turn back the handsof time. Make it a point to hug your children and other love ones, as often as you can . Because tomorrow might not have a chance. This father effort was courageous. Rip

nonmember avatar LEP627

I was never fortunate enough to find the right person or have kids. But I cannot think of any bigger heartache than losing your child. RIP Joe. I hope you & your son are in Heaven together.

nonmember avatar Marcia

Together again in Paradise..What an amazing Father. We can all learn from them both.....RIP...:)

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