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Ride to Survive will provide way to make a difference

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By Mallory Bilger

MOUNT WASHINGTON — Some ride to have fun, others ride to reach a destination. This Saturday a group of concerned citizens will ride to remember a group of Mount Washington teens who died by suicide.

The participants in the second annual Make a Difference For Kids Inc.’s Ride to Survive Poker Run are hoping to create awareness of youth cyberbullying and teen suicide.

All proceeds will benefit the Make a Difference for Kids foundation that is led by President Mark Neblett of Mount Washington.

Neblett and his wife, Donna, lost their daughter Rachel to suicide in 2006 after what they believe were attacks of cyberbullying and threats upon their teenager.

Three other Mount Washington teens — Kristin Settles, Karissa Smith and Michael Gousha — have also died by suicide.

Make A Difference for Kids advocates Randall Thomas of Louisville and John Kasey of Shepherdsville helped organize the event.

Neblett said since the creation for Make a Difference for Kids he believes awareness has been created in the Jefferson and Bullitt County areas, but there is still work to be done.

“We feel that we’ve made quite a bit (of progress) but not nearly enough,” Neblett said.

The poker run will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Mount Washington Valu Market. It will cover approximately 90 miles, including stops at My Old Kentucky Home, the Fast Food market in Springfield, Settlers Trace in Taylorsville and then back to Valu Market.

Poker hands will be drawn at each stop and cash prizes will be awarded to the first and second best hands and to the worst hand.

Registration cost is $10 per person or $15 per couple.

Neblett said the proceeds would go to fund a new interactive theatre group through Make a Difference for Kids that will travel around to local middle and high schools. Neblett said the group will perform a play that educates students on the truths about cyberbullying and teen suicide and why suicide does not have to be a last resort.

He said the play would empower students, giving them examples of how to get help or assist another student in getting help if he or she is experience bullying or suicidal thoughts.

“The theater group, they are going to work it up to the very end and it’s going to come out and end up being positive.

“Instead of going to the suicide, instead of losing all hope, (students) will gain that hope back and have that courage to carry on,” Neblett said.

If Saturday’s weather is good, Neblett is expecting for between 1,500 and 1,600 motorcycle and car riders to turn out in memory of the lost youth.

All motorcycle and automobile riders are invited to participate in the poker run. Registration will take place the day of the run.

For more information, contact John Kasey at kyleen1219@yahoo.com or by phone at 644-5877.