As a despondent Navy vet, Daniel Hurd tried to kill himself.
Now the Massachusetts native is on a mission to save people from themselves. Hurd has embarked on bicycle journey that will take him to each of the 48 contiguous states preaching suicide awareness to anybody who will listen.
“I’d failed three times and was planning a fourth before one of my friends got me on a bike,” Hurd said.
During a stop in Tekamah last week, Hurd said that on Saturday, Oct. 5, he will have been on the road for 19 months. He said the three-year journey eventually will take him 25,000 miles, all on two wheels.
A former motorcyclist, Hurd remembered being happiest while on the open road. As he became more and more enamored with pedal-powered cycling, he decided he needed to do something big. That’s when he began planning his quest. Through his time in the Navy, he developed a network of friends across the country. After plotting out where many of them live, he started connecting the dots.
That was a year and a half ago. He hasn’t been back to Massachusetts since and doesn’t plan to be.
He also found something else while on the road—his faith in God.
“I became a Christian last August in Ohio,” he said. A lot of things led me to it. I came to realize I didn’t succeed at suicide because God had bigger plans for me.”
Through meeting people on his travels and the online postings he makes, he has come to learn that he’s played a part in 55 people turning away from their suicidal plans.
“I where God wants me, doing what he wants me to do,” Hurd said. “I didn’t believe that until I was on this journey.”
He also has a newfound belief in the inherent kindness total strangers possess. He gets by on donations, living on the generosity of others.
He said finding faith in humanity and faith in God has changed his life and he wants to share that with others. So, along the route he’s also become a public speaker. He spoke to veterans at Sioux City’s Unity Point Hospital last week.
His bicycle carries 175 pounds of gear. Included are tools, spare parts, clothes, emergency food, camping equipment—everything necessary to survive on the road, by yourself. It’s also less than he started with. As the journey has progressed, he’s found he doesn’t need as much, which is a good thing. He said the bike is like “a rolling sailboat,” on windy days, so he tries to take advantage of better weather any time he can. A typical day is at least 22 miles, a mile for every vet the nation loses to suicide every day.
Despite the struggles, like getting through the hills of northeast Nebraska on a windy day, he said the trip has been rewarding.
“This is the least amount of stuff and the least amount of money I’ve ever had and I’ve never been happier,” he said.
He was making his way from Decatur to at least Fort Calhoun, maybe Omaha, on Thursday He’s making his way to Kansas City. Then its across Missouri to St. Louis before heading to Texas where he’ll spend the winter. By next summer he plans to be in Montana before heading south again to San Diego before travelling up the Pacific coast to Seattle where the bicycle journey ends—but his journey through life continues.
Donations can be made, and suicide prevention information can be found, at his Web site: www.ridewithdanusa.com.