20211006-LOC-Cyclists

Devin Mclaughlin, left, of West Chesterfield and Michael Mariani of Spofford stand with their road bikes near Mariani’s home in 2020.

Two recent Keene High School graduates biking across the country for suicide awareness were recognized by U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan last week as “Granite Staters of the Month” for their efforts.

Michael Mariani of Spofford and Devin Mclaughlin of West Chesterfield were honored Sept. 29 on the Senate floor. They started their campaign, Pedaling for Prevention, as a tribute to Mariani’s older brother, Nathan, who died by suicide in 2018.

“We wanted to do something that honored [my brother] but also could generate a lot of awareness and make light out of the dark,” Mariani told The Sentinel last year.

Hassan, D-N.H., launched the “Granite Stater of the Month” initiative in 2017 for New Hampshire residents who “go above and beyond to help their neighbors,” according to a news release from her office. Recipients are nominated, the release notes.

“These two thoughtful, brave and determined young people embody what it means to be a Granite Stater,” Hassan said during the tribute. “After a heartbreaking loss that reverberated through an entire community, Mike and Devin decided to make a positive impact by spreading a message of resilience and hope, all the while educating others about suicide prevention and the importance of reaching out for help.”

Mariani and Mclaughlin were supposed to set off on their journey in the summer of 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed their plans a year. They did a shorter route last year instead, biking across New Hampshire.

But after graduating from Keene High in June, the pair was finally able to set off on their cross-country adventure. They are about halfway through their nearly 4,000-mile ride, according to their Facebook page.

As of Saturday, Mariani and Mclaughlin were in Utah, their Instagram page shows.

Proceeds raised before and during the ride — through a GoFundMe page and community donations — will benefit local suicide-prevention group The Samaritans in Keene. Some of the money will also go toward their trip.

As of Tuesday, their GoFundMe had raised about $8,800 of their $20,000 goal.

Mariani and Mclaughlin were not reachable this week for comment.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter @OBelangerKS.