Seven years ago this September, I lost my father and friend. Jim (or “Jimbo” as his friends and family affectionally referred to him as) left this world and it still feels like I can hear him say his trademark line (“what happened to ya”). I didn’t know how to cope with the grief, sadness, anger, and loneliness that came with his passing. Losing a parent suddenly is a traumatic experience that puts you on an emotional roller coaster of highs and lows. Over time, the rollercoaster slows down and the flips and turns get farther apart, but it doesn’t ever end. There will always be a nagging sense of absence as I experience life’s major milestones; engagements, weddings, first homes, the birth of my daughter, and everything else that a parent should proudly be there with you for. Jimbo won’t be able to experience the person I am today and share in my successes and mistakes. However, I know he would be proud and even in the most difficult moments, I try and channel his caring and calm demeanor. His legacy has brought us here today.
So on September 12, I am going to attempt a Olympic duathlon (40k bike & 10k run) in his honor. September is national suicide prevention month and also the seven year anniversary of his passing. I am going to attempt to channel his biking prowess and will use his favorite red racing bike and biking jersey. Jim was an avid biker and often rode up to 100 miles in a day. I will probably get nowhere near his biking speed, but the goal is to do something to honor a wonderful man. As a further nod to legacy, I am attempting to raise $1,000 dollars to donate to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (“NAMI”). NAMI is a national organization that provides a range of education, support, advocacy, crisis intervention, and resources for people struggling with mental health. Mental health is something that everyone should focus on and is often not talked about, but I want it to be part of the conversation (especially given the world we live in today).
· Goals is to raise $1,000
· Jamie and I will match the first $500. Therefore counting on your support for $500.
· If we reach the $1,000 goal, Jamie and I will make a bonus donation of an additional $500 to the Portland Boys and Girls Club.
I understand financial situations could be uncertain in the current climate and a donation might not be in the budget (totally understand). If that is the case, there are a couple of other ways to support the cause:
1). Share this with others
2). Reach out to a loved one, friend, or anyone you know struggling with mental health
3). Cherish your loved ones and let them know
A few fun stores to share about my father: In his twenties, he rode his bike from San Francisco to Canada. He loved camping in the California and Oregon state campgrounds. He slept in a tiny tent with his belongings in his bike panniers. His longest bike ride was over 130 miles in one day! After biking through Eugene in 1977, he decided to move there. He met his wife in Eugene, Peggy, and they bonded through their mutual love for biking. He loved swimming in rivers, hiking, backpacking, biking, and especially wood working. Ever the tinkerer, he built just about every piece of furniture in the Atchley household and loved to bring to life the hairbrained projects his kids thought up (half pipes, jumps, tops, toys, derby cars, tree forts, you name it). Jim had a long career as a mechanical engineer at Freightliner and was a thoughtful and caring leader. Jim was an analytical person and if it was broken or if there was a better way to do something you better believe he would let you know. He loved to take things apart to see how it was made, and he especially liked the challenge to put it back together again. He was the neighborhood expert on science projects and the best nighttime math tutor. He is sorely missed, but I know he is with us in our day-to-day life.