On Saturday, August 21, Kyle's Mile 7 took place in Cedar Rapids, IA after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Spearheaded by Kyle's father, Byron Cooper, Kyle's Mile is an annual suicide awareness and prevention ride where all monies raised goes to the Boys Town National Hotline. Byron lost his son Kyle to suicide 8 years ago. In Nebraska and Iowa alone, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for children ages 15-19.
On the day of the ride…
Starting right at 10:45 am, kickstands were up, and the riders left the Metro Harley Davidson Suzuki Can-Am Motorcycle Dealership and headed to their destination at North Point Saloon, almost 100 miles from the start. The ride had two stops along the way with roughly 300 riders, including bikes and a handful of cars. To add an element of entertainment, there was a silent and live auction, raffle, food, and drinks. In honor of Kyle, specialty shirts are made every year and sold to raise funds for the event. As the ride continues to gain attraction, donations are also made by local companies to go towards the endowment Byron started for this ride. Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids matches dollar for dollar up to $25,000. The latest addition to the donor list is University of Perdue Online, which donated $2,500 this year.
From the words of Byron himself, "Suicide, depression, and bullying are all taboo topics, and we want to talk about them. Never underestimate the power of a kind word or gesture...it may be exactly what was needed to pull someone out of a dark place."
Kyle's Mile 7 was a huge success, raising a total of $33,512 in donations! Unique to this year's ride, one of the bikers offered to cut his full beard and hair for a donation of $1,000. There is no question that the event is always memorable, bringing together family and friends to honor Kyle and to remember all of those that were lost to suicide.
Byron and his family would like to thank everyone who came to support the cause last Saturday. It was a huge success and Byron is grateful for that! "It's not because of me, it's about everyone that is there. The community support makes all the difference."
If you are interested in supporting this event or would like to start your own bike ride to benefit Boys Town, please contact Stan Kontogiannis at 402-315-0156.