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Memorial ride honors young student, raises mental health awareness

Pharos-Tribune - 9/6/2023

Sep. 6—It's been a time of mourning for the Walton community and it's unfortunately an all too familiar feeling.

On Saturday, Sept. 9, Project Hope 929 will hold its second Parker Abbott Memorial Ride to honor a young Lewis Cass student who died last year.

Registration for the event begins at 2 p.m. and with the ride starting at 3 p.m. The ride will leave from Lewis Cass High School and head first to Mike Anderson Logansport, 417 S. 3rd St.

From there, the ride will travel to Mike Anderson Kokomo, 100 S. Reed Rd., and then return to Lewis Cass.

"(Parker) was a band student. He was fun," said Nikki Malott, founder of Project Hope. "Every time I was around him, he was happy and smiling. He was a jokester. He liked to pull pranks."

Malott hopes ultimately that funds raised through the rides will go to create a scholarship in Abbott's honor that can be given to a Lewis Cass band student, either for college or for a student's high school band equipment.

A portion of this year's proceeds will go to help support the Griffin family, who recently lost their son and brother, Gavin, on Aug. 28.

The ride will include Jeeps and motorcycles but everyone is welcome to participate, Malott said.

Raffles for prizes will be held at each stop along the ride. There will also be a silent auction.

Malott recalled that during last year's ride, Mike Anderson Kokomo decorated their lot, had suicide prevention ribbons, a DJ and more.

"They really welcomed us," she said. "We are excited to go back there this year."

The event doesn't conclude with the ride's end. There will be information booths focused on mental health set up at Lewis Cass Saturday evening. Tyson will donate food that will be available with a free will donation. There will be live music and at 8:30 p.m., the Cass County Zero Suicide Task Force will hold a luminaria ceremony to raise suicide awareness.

Cost to participate in the ride is $25 per vehicle and $10 per passenger.

Those participating also include the AMVETS Cpl. Humberto Sanchez Post #82621, the Bowen Center, Alternative to Suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health America.

Malott said one of the keys to lowering childhood suicide rates is just talking. Fifteen percent of all suicides are people between the ages of 15 and 24, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I think the hardest thing is for (kids) to just talk about it," Malott said. "They think it's just only them that are struggling. They don't want to look weird. But everybody struggles. It doesn't matter the age, demographic. It doesn't matter. People struggle and I think the biggest problem is they don't talk about it. I think that is also related to the stigma surrounding mental health."

Malott encouraged young people to seek out those they trusted, be it family, friends, a therapist or teachers.

She also said it was important for parents to start the conversation and check in on their children and their friends.

She tells those who come to her to talk about losing Parker Abbott to turn their pain into power and do something to honor their friend.

"Stand up and do something," she said. "That's the only way you are going to get through the pain."

Those interested in participating in the Parker Abbott Memorial Ride may visit the Facebook event page at

The National Mental Health Crisis and Suicide Prevention number is 988. It operates 24 hours a day for anyone who needs immediate help.

4C Health, 800 Fulton St., has a crisis line that can be reached at 1-800-552-3106. Those in need may also visit any 4C location during business hours for crisis services.

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, Stand Up Cass County will offer QPR suicide prevention training at Ivy Tech. To register visit


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