‘I Didn’t Have a Good Outlook’ Says Man Riding Bike Cross Country To Raise Awareness For Suicide Prevention
COTTONWOODS, Utah – It is one thing to bike because you love it. It’s another thing to bike because you love strangers.
“I realize I have to do this. I’ve been looking for a purpose for 36 years,” said Denny Ying while standing next to his bicycle in Cottonwood Heights.
Four months ago, Ying couldn’t imagine riding a bike.
“I don’t even enjoy sweating. I don’t!” he said with a laugh.
However, he knew he needed a change.
His career as a realtor in California wasn’t going so well, a relationship crumbled, and he wasn’t sure how much longer he could go on for.
“I was very stuck. I was in a very bad place in my life,” said Ying. “I didn’t have a good outlook.”
So, he got a bike and started pedaling.
It turns out, cycling made him feel good about himself.
He quickly got into shape, reminding him of his military days, and did a trip from Denver to Chicago.
“I was riding for veteran suicide awareness at that time, but as I talked to people, I realized there is so much more going on,” said Ying.
He heard one story about boy who killed himself whose mother did the same.
“Her son was two days from being 13 years old and he committed suicide,” said Ying. “That was four months ago and guess what? Mom followed him two months later.”
That story was one of many Ying heard during his early rides.
“That breaks my heart even though I don’t know them. And would you agree that as a community we need to do better? I think so,” he said.
Ying thought a lot about the stories he was being told.
During one of his long thinking rides was when his big idea hit him.
So, he sold everything he owned in California and started his journey across the country, San Francisco to Boston, to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
“While cycling is not an answer or a solution to everything, it is a great way to cope,” he said. “Because it’s important, right? It’s close to heart.”
One of Ying’s own friends committed suicide shortly before starting his journey.
Her name is Erlana Rutherford and is one of many names he wears on his shirt, with more being added at every stop, to help him keep going.
“I just have to take one pedal at a time, one breath at a time, one mile at a time,” said Ying.
Those miles aren’t always easy.
He still has cuts and scrapes from one accident in California.
A nurse helped him get medical attention, and called ahead to his next stop to make sure he could get treatment there.
In fact, since his story has started to gain attention, lots of people are helping him complete his journey.
Ying rode through Nevada last week and arrived in Utah earlier this week where the Unified Fire Authority helped him out by giving him a place to stay at their Cottonwood Heights fire station.
UFA firefighters added the name Bryce Longaker to his shirt in order to honor one of their own.
“There are a lot of people struggling and we need some inspiration and we need some hope,” said Ying. “Physically, I’m a little bit exhausted. But I need to keep going.”
He said there is no way he’s going to stop, not now.
He feels his personal story, and message to others struggling, are too important.
“Whatever you’re experiencing is real. It doesn’t matter if other people get it or not, it’s real and we acknowledge that,” said Ying.
He’s hoping others struggling will see what he has done and know it’s possible to be happy again.
“What’s really important is, first of all, you’re not alone,” he said.
That alone just might be enough to save someone’s life, even if your only ally is a stranger on a bike.
If you would like to follow Ying’s journey, he’s updating his Facebook page when he has time.