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In Memoriam

A gay dad mourns the loss of Joe Bell, killed in the line of duty of being a dad

Thursday, October 10, 2013

“Making headway, one step at a time.”

This was the last communication from Joe Bell on his epic quest to walk across the United States to do everything within his power to end bullying, intolerance and suicide.

His journey was not the result of an idealistic publicity stunt. It was a mission.

Joe Bell

Joe Bell

Joe Bell

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Joe Bell in Denver, Colo., in a photo posted to his Facebook page on Sept. 24.

A truck whose driver allegedly had fallen asleep at the wheel struck Joe down yesterday killing him as he fought in valor as a dad, and a hero.

Our country’s values had fallen asleep at its own wheel long before this accident.

Jadin Bell, Joe’s 15-year-old son, tragically took his own life earlier this year. Jadin hung himself after a barrage of bullying that even continued in the local paper while he hung on for days in a coma. One commenter, for example, calling himself “PuzzleFighter,” wrote in the thread commemorating Jadin, “BTW, some guy who hugs me for no reason deserves a punch in the face.”

Others gave insight to the environment the Bells faced.

“CMar74” addressed this by stating about La Grande, Ore., “the culture of intolerance in that town is horrific and am thankful we removed our family from it.”

The loss of Jadin was a loss to the world. According to a family friend, he elevated those around him with a “couple quick words and everybody would just forget about their problems and smile. He just had a gift.”

That loss could not have been felt more deeply than in the heart of his dad, Joe Bell.

As a dad, I relate to the soul that I know was in Joe.

I know the feeling of looking at my sons and experiencing a love beyond that which I could ever dream possible. It is a love in which you want for, you would die for, that person to get every wish, every hope, every accomplishment they imagined. It is a love which puts the other person first unequivocally and calls for any sacrifice to keep them safe, healthy and well.

On the day Jadin died, I know as I breathe, part of Joe’s soul had to have been decimated. Mine would have been.

According to his Facebook page, Joe “figured he had two choices, lay down and give up or stand up and walk.”

For me, as it was with Joe, in that situation there are only two choices, lay down and die or fight to the death against the thing that killed your kid.

So Joe walked, and he walked hard.

He traveled from Oregon to Colorado speaking to groups who would listen all along the way, including a youth group the evening of his death. “This is what I am out here for,” he said in a self made video a few days before. “I am out here to make Change.”

Moments before Joe was killed, he looked at a sign that said “Wild Horse 7”.

Life, the ultimate wild horse, was about to knock him down, and end the pain and mourning that he still must have been carrying in his gut.

This is not the end of Joe and Jadin Bell however. As the horrible news of Joe’s death has spread, a common theme has left the lips of many: “We will continue the walk.”

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We will walk. We will fight. We will love with a force that will eradicate fear, homophobia and the individualized terror known as “bullying.”

We should have done it earlier so Jadin would not have had to die, and Joe would not have had to walk.

We can do it now, however. It is not too late. I wish we could have done it for Jadin, but as Joe knew, there are more “Jadins” out there, and we can do it for them.

And now, we can also do it for Joe.

To Joe, from me, and many dads out here: You died in the line of duty of being a dad. Rest in peace, man, we will not let you go in vain.

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48 more reader comments:

  1. Wow, this is so tragic!

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:44pm
  2. Very sad!!! His message is getting out now. And they are together again. RIP

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:46pm
  3. How tragic. I remember when he started this walk. I am sure he made a difference, though, even time was too short to fulfill his mission. R.I.P., Joe.

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:46pm
  4. God Bless you and your son!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:46pm
  5. :-(

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:50pm
  6. :’( Terribly tragic!

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:50pm
  7. :~{ …… X a thousand.

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:51pm
  8. This is so heartbreaking. . .

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:51pm
  9. What a TRAGEDY! Two beauitful souls now gone, but they both left their mark

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:56pm
  10. Together again for all eternity. We need more dad’s like him now more than ever.

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:59pm
  11. Is life meaningless, or is this only a speed bump on our way to comprehending its meaning?

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:59pm
  12. Such a noble soul and thank you for all you have done <3

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 8:01pm
  13. He left the world better than he found it.

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 8:25pm
  14. Thank you for posting. We’ll keep on walking. <3

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 8:26pm
  15. Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 8:34pm
  16. Sad that this happened to this caring father.

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 8:37pm
  17. To hate a stranger just because of remembering a lost son and kill him is outrageous. The murderer should be killed for his insane hate!

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 8:44pm
  18. R.I.P JOE

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 8:55pm
  19. RIP Joe Bell

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 9:10pm
  20. peace to you

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 9:25pm
  21. Prayers!!! Horrible!! :(((((

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 9:48pm
  22. r.i.p.brother

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 9:59pm
  23. terribly sad. may he RIP

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 10:06pm
  24. Heartbreaking.

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 10:20pm
  25. So sad.

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 10:23pm
  26. RIP Joe. Bullying is terrible. You were a great person.God bless you.

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 11:21pm
  27. RIP Brave and Loving father!!!!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 11:37pm
  28. i met him in person he gave a speech at Ogden OUTreach he was a amazing person its always the good ones that have to leave us

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 12:19am
  29. omg, so sad. what a true hero

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 1:07am
  30. His son would have been so proud of him.

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 1:23am
  31. All the good ones taken way before their good work is finished, before they can see the good they help bring about… Such a shame…

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 3:00am
  32. Joe did the greatest thing you could ever do as a father and a human being.

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 3:39am
  33. Bless this amazing father and his boy…..may they be together now. R.I.P.

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 4:47am
  34. RIP both of u feel like I had known u sad

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 5:57am
  35. This is very sad!!!

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 8:27am
  36. these awareness walks/peddles arent safe any more.

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 8:28am
  37. sad, just sad. May Him & his son find peace now

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 10:40am
  38. Nnikii Nefertity

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 12:37pm
  39. A loving and noble father. As a society we have so much to learn. He and his son will forever be teaching us about real love. May they rest in peace.

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 12:50pm
  40. so sad…

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 12:56pm
  41. RIP

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 1:17pm
  42. Seems like everyone attempting this for whatever reason dies trying. I would’ve honored him in a different, less dangerous way.

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 1:35pm
  43. OMG what a sad story. I just say his post about his efforts and now this?

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 4:18pm
  44. I hope the world reads this story. I too am a gay dad that has a gay son. Bless you for doing this for your friend and his son.

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 5:33pm
  45. What do u have to say for yourself humankind?

    Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 7:23pm
  46. This is just too much. Bravery.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 2:58am
  47. best dad in the world.

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 3:30am
  48. this is so sad

    Posted on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 9:38am