Special Report: A Father's Journey To Spread Suicide AwarenessPosted: Updated:
A Rossie father has traveled thousands of miles on a journey to honor his son and he’s not stopping until he gets to Alaska.
7 News reporter Patrick Malowski tells us in a special report he’s found help along the way.
Since May 5, Jeremy Donovan’s been on a trip taking his boat across the country.
“Just went through the last lock of the Mississippi River," he said. "I love this river, but I hate it.”
Thousand of miles and tens of thousands of dollar -- all for his son Keegan.
Keegan was a student at Hammond Central, where he played soccer and basketball. Keegan's mother says he had a history of concussions that changed his life.
Last year, he killed himself. Keegan was just 16 years old.
“Two days after he had passed away, I was sleeping in his bed and he came to me in a dream," his father said. "He was on the couch and he leaned over, gave me a fist bump, and said 'take my ashes to Alaska.'”
“He sits right there on the dash," he said, indicating Keegan's ashes. "That way we can see everything."
With Keegan’s ashes by his side, Donovan's traveling the country’s waterways on his 1978 Stingray. He calls it Fast Boat, which stands for Father’s Against Suicidal Thoughts.
He's trying to share a simple message: you're not alone.
“Sometimes it’s hard to talk to a family member or a doctor," he said. "Sometimes it’s easy to talk to a stranger.”
Many people have been following Donovan's trip on Facebook, where he’s been posting updates.
His story is making waves. One news station found him in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
A few days before, he was on the news in Davenport, Iowa.
And 1,000 miles later: Billings, Montana.
Meanwhile, back home, the community wants to spread Jeremy’s message raising suicide awareness -- and to help with his journey.
“It’s remarkable," Melinda Fleming said. "I’m so proud of him."
Fleming and Cathy Simons' sons went to school with Keegan.
“Everybody was devastated,” Fleming said.
“My son took it really hard, like everybody else in the community and school, too," Simmons said. "Keegan had a lot of friends.”
Since Donovan needs money to keep traveling, people in the community are throwing him a benefit later this month.
“He’s not looking for a free ride," Fleming said. "He appreciates everything that everybody’s doing for him.”
“It feels so good, I can’t even describe it," Donovan said. "This is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.”
Once he gets to the Pacific coast, Donovan plans on getting a job for the winter. He says he also plans on settle in an area where there’s a town with a very familiar name.
“Hammond on the East Coast, Hammond on the West Coast,” he said. “Try to learn the ocean."
When prime boating season rolls back around, he plans to head up the coast with Keegan’s ashes to Alaska.
“I got a kayak right there, see it?" he said. "Boat goes down, we’ll ride in that, so it is what it is, I won’t stop.”
(The photo of Jeremy with his boat is from his gofundme page.)