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Daniel Hurd has been biking across the lower 48 U.S. states for the last 19 months for suicide awareness. Nebraska is his 33rd state and he had gone about 14,000 miles when he rode through Blair on Thursday.

A little more than halfway through his 25,000 mile bicycle trek across the lower 48 states, Daniel Hurd made his way through Blair on Thursday.

"I'm actually going to go sit next to the river for awhile," he said.

Hurd began his journey, setting out from Plymouth, Mass., a little more than 19 months ago to raise awareness about suicide.

"Because I'm doing this for suicide awareness, I'm doing it with no savings," he said. "The little money I have with me is from donations, so I can show people that there's still people in the world who are willing to help regardless whether they know the whole story or not. Give those people that are struggling the hope that, with the basis of nothing, we can survive."

Hurd, a veteran, said he's attempted suicide three times. He said he was thinking of a fourth when a friend urged him onto a bicycle.

"I didn't ride bikes since I was a kid, I rode motorcycles. It was something I thought I was above," Hurd said. "He had tried four or five times to get me on a bicycle, and it was not for me. At least I thought."

But Hurd went on one, two and then a third ride with his friend.

"I was struggling with what we'd already done," he said. "I was struggling to get home, and he said, 'It's one pedal at a time. Left right, left right.' That got me through that ride and ultimately got me started to live my life in the moment instead of so much in the past or so worried about my future, which is so many people's struggles."

The experience is what pushed Hurd to plan his trip across the U.S. He said he wanted to visit friends he'd served with in the military, who were living in 32 different states when he started in 2017.

"To get to them, I had to do 42 states, so what's the other six at that point," Hurd said.

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Daniel Hurd, who is biking across the lower 48 states for suicide awareness, rides down 16th Street in Blair on Thursday.

Nebraska is his 33rd state and Blair marked about 14,000 miles on the road. He said he'll usually go about 40 to 60 miles per day, but has gone up to 130 miles in a day to represent the more than 120 people who commit suicide in the U.S. daily. Over three years, his 25,000 total miles will average to about 22 miles per day.

"Which is a dedication to the veterans we lose every day," Hurd said.

Near the start of his journey, in an effort to reach more people, Hurd started a nonprofit organization based on his friend's mantra. The "One Pedal At A Time Movement," (OPAAT) seeks to help connect people with cycling as a way to help them overcome life's obstacles.

He said, either through people he's met on the road or people who've seen his social media presence, he knows of 55 people who've turned away from suicide because of his journey.

"They all have their own meaning, obviously, you connect to them some way or another," Hurd said.

The first person the OPAAT movement helped was in New Hampshire. Minutes after crossing a bridge, Hurd said he met a woman planning to jump off that same bridge. After he talked with her for some time, she changed her mind.

A man he met in New York made him a believer in God, Hurd said.

"I literally watched him tie a noose and get ready to hang himself before I got him to think about things differently," Hurd said. "Honestly, that had nothing to do with me. I wasn't a believer in God that day, but I told the guy, 'God's got a plan for us. Stick it out, enjoy it because you never know if today's your last day.' For whatever reason, that worked ...Two days later I accepted God in my life."

Talking to people out of respect and dignity, Hurd said, is one of the most important things people should do for each other.

"Even if you don't know they're struggling," he said. "We always say, 'How you doing?' which in today's society means, 'Hi.' Typically, even people that want to answer that truthfully, 'Oh, this person doesn't really care' ... I legitimately try to mean it. If someone says it, they should mean it. It can change somebody's outlook on life and their whole day."

People can follow Hurd's journey or donate to OPAAT at ridewithdanusa.com and opaatmovement.com.

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