September 11, 2013 - It's an event dedicated to remembrance, awareness, prevention and support.
Oxford residents Joe and Michelle Hrischuk pose with the sign denoting the section of the Polly Ann Trail they adopted in honor of their son Shane, who took his own life in January 2012. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
On Saturday, Sept. 14, the Tour de Shane Bike-a-thon will return to the Polly Ann Trail.
The second annual event is dedicated to the memory of Shane Hrischuk, a popular Oxford Middle School eighth-grader who took his own life in January 2012.
It begins at Christ the King Church (1550 W. Drahner Rd.) in Oxford Township.
From there, bicyclists can travel either a 5, 10 or 22-mile route along the trail. They can also opt for a route that takes them to downtown Oxford and back.
Walkers are welcome, too.
The ride/walk will take participants past Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery, the place where Shane is buried. In Shane's honor, the Hrischuk family adopted the portion of the trail next to the cemetery that runs between W. Burdick St. and the pedestrian bridge over M-24.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the ride/walk starts at 10 a.m. The fee to participate is $25 for adults and $15 for youth age 17 and under.
Last year, a total of 349 people registered for the Tour de Shane. Numbers are down this year as between 100 and 150 have registered so far.
Organizer Michelle Hrischuk, Shane's mother, is hoping to boost registration to at least 200 and garner more sponsorships as well.
"It's a great, fun thing to do with your family and your friends," she said. "We had so many families last year."
A local youth band called Retro Specs will begin performing at the church at 11 a.m. A light lunch will be served from 12 to 1:30 p.m. Christ the King Associate Pastor Kevin Cook will lead a prayer and talk about suicide awareness.
The Hrischuk family is planning to use the event proceeds to establish a suicide awareness/prevention/counseling program in both the Oxford and Lake Orion school districts.
Michelle said the schools have programs to deal with bullying, drunk driving and teen sex, but they don't have anything dedicated to helping young people struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide.
"I just feel like someone has to do something around here," she said.
In her opinion, the schools have "kept it kind of quiet for a long time" and the problem's "getting a lot worse."
In March of this year, a second member of Shane's class, Megan Abbott, a freshman at Oxford High School, took her own life.
Michelle wants to set up a program called Shane's Vue that takes away the "stigma" associated with suicide and depression, and makes it "okay to talk about" these typically taboo subjects.
"It's better to talk about it before it happens than what we've been doing, which is after it happens," she said. "I never talked to Shane about it. I never knew I had to. I think that's true with a lot of the parents."
Shane was a good student who excelled in both academics and sports and was well-liked by his peers.
"We never saw it coming," Michelle said.
Both Michelle and her husband, Joe, must still complete training through Common Ground and do some volunteer work with the group before they'll be ready to implement Shane's Vue.
Based in Oakland County, Common Ground provides counseling, information and referrals to help individuals and families in crisis, victims of crime, people with mental illness, people trying to cope with critical situations and youth who are runaways or homeless.
Common Ground operates a 24-hour crisis/resource hotline at 1-800-231-1127.
The Hrischuk family's also planning to use proceeds from the Tour de Shane to eventually set up a scholarship fund in their late son's name and help the families of suicide victims pay for funeral and burial expenses.
"We were fortunate. Our family had a lot of friends and community support, but not everyone does," Michelle said. "These families are struggling to get the help and money they need. You don't get insurance money (for suicides)."
For more information about the Tour de Shane, please visit www.tourdeshane.com or contact Michelle Hrischuk at (248) 969-0397 or Joe Hrischuk at (248) 755-8874.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.