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Ride for Tomorrow: Fourth annual ride for suicide prevention set for Saturday

Ride for Tomorrow
Posted at 5:30 PM, Jun 09, 2024

The fourth annual Ride for Tomorrow event is scheduled for Saturday, June 15, beginning at the Second Shift bar in Lockwood.

The ride, which is organized by the Tenacious Dames riding club and Dog Tag Buddies, will have three different distances: 300 miles, 500 miles and 1,000 miles. All of the funds generated are donated to Dog Tag Buddies, which helps veterans find and train their own service dog.

Former Great Falls resident and military veteran Aerial Loewen has participated in the last three Ride for Tomorrow events because she knows just how impactful it can be. Loewen adopted her dog Echo through Dog Tag Buddies and said he's been crucial to her recovery.

"I've had my own dark days and it gets worse when he's not around," Loewen said in an online camera interview. "Veterans don't always want to reach out to another person and so (Dog Tag Buddies) is giving them an avenue."

Loewen won't be participating in this year's ride after taking a job and moving to St. Louis, Missouri. Still, she couldn't emphasize just how much Echo helps her on a daily basis.

"Until you've had days where you don't want to get out of bed for yourself, but you're willing to get out of bed to feed your dog and to walk your dog," Loewen said with a smile. "I mean, there's a reason why their companionship is so impactful."

Loewen takes Echo nearly everywhere she goes. She's even trained him to be able to ride her motorcyle with her during these long treks.

Loewen with Echo

"He's a big part of what gets me through dark days," Loewen said. "He's my best friend. He's all I've got and that's the way dog tag buddies impacts lives is how it helps veterans fight suicidal ideation."

According to Ride for Tomorrow organizer Kari Conklin, the suicide rate in Montana is in the top five highest over the past 40 years. It's a problem Conklin said this event is organized for.

"There’s so many things we take for granted," Conklin said. "You know, they went through a lot while they were serving our country and taking care of our freedoms. We owe it to them."

And while the ride is well worth it, with many scenic views, Conklin said the most important part is spreading the word.

"We're just normal everyday people, and we want to bring awareness to everybody," Conklin said. "Just adding miles to the conversation."

The hope is to find some consistency for veterans just like Loewen.

"The consistent things that can be are our pets and our dogs," Loewen said. "They can be our pets and our dogs and they can often make a bigger impact than any of us can make credit for."

Ride for Tomorrow is still accepting registrations and will be all week. For information about the event and how to register, click here.