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Bicyclist Trekking Cross Country for Dual Causes
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 • Posted December 9, 2009

I had gone to our San Saba office on Thursday to work on their computers. While there, I heard them interviewing a fellow who was bicycling through promoting Suicide Prevention and Basset Hound Rescue. I was intrigued by the dual causes, and by the nature of his journey.

Marshall Wayne Lee is 41 years old. A veteran of the U.S. Army. And a living testament to the power of a pet to help pull someone back from the brink of suicide.

Only a few years ago, Marshall had lost his job in Chicago. He sent out scores of resumes, worked the phones, knocked on doors,,, and nothing happened. At 40 years of age, he was unemployed, at risk of losing his apartment, and becoming more and more depressed every day.

At first, it just took him longer and longer to drag himself out of bed every day. He would lay there, staring at the ceiling, trying to find reasons to get up and start moving. After a while, he started to wonder if there was a reason to even keep living.

There was, and her name was Antigone Puppleupagus. Antigone is a basset hound of indeterminate age. Marshall doesn't know her age for certain because she was a rescue dog, saved from a breeder mill. At the time of her rescue, she had heartworms, and was starved for attention and love. She found both when she was adopted by Marshall.

And then she returned the favor.

As Marshall's thoughts turned darker and darker, he would be pulled back from the edge by the reassuring nudge of Antigone, urging him to wake up. Urging him to get out of bed. Urging him to talk to her.

Marshall tried to convince himself that there was no reason to go on living; but, then he would think about Antigone. Would someone find her soon enough if he killed himself? If they found her, where would she spend the rest of her days? If his parents adopted her, would she be a constant reminder of their lost son?

So, he made himself move beyond the depression. He worked to find help, and to move beyond the darkness that had sought to claim him.

Antigone is a tail-wagging reminder of Marshall's first cause in his trek from Chicago to the Pacific northwest. The other was the group that helped him find emotional and spiritual help in his fight against depression, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Marshall's journey, while taking him to new opportunities out west, is also a fund raising campaign for the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk-A-Thon in support of the suicide prevention foundation.

Out of the Darkness holds their events during the nighttime hours, the same time when so many people finally succumb to the depression and end their lives. It raises money to get information to people who need hope, and to get them the services they need to make it for another day.

Marshall welcomes any sponsors for his walk quest, and they can find more information at:

www.theovernight.org

or, they can get suicide prevention information at:

www.afsp.org

But, back to Antigone, the rescued basset. What had caught my attention while Marshall was being interviewed in San Saba was that amazing dog. She was well behaved, friendly, and eager to make a good impression. She had already met Carol from Bend, Texas, earlier in the day and won her over. Carol had made sure Marshall made it to San Saba, then dropped by later to bring water and goodies for their trip.

Antigone also won me over.

The cold front was moving into central Texas, and Marshall was supposed to be in Brady by nightfall. I explained that I could return to Mason three different ways, and one of them passed through that town. They accepted my offer, and after a meal at Sonic (where Antigone enjoyed an ice cream), I dropped them at a motel on the south side of Brady.

Early Friday, I got in touch with James Stewart at the Brady Standard-Herald and made the introductions for him to do a story. James and his crew set up a KNEL interview with Lynn Farris. By the time Marshall and Antigone were preparing to leave on Saturday, they had enjoyed rest, good food, and lots of friends.

I decided to offer one last bit of help. Knowing that Highway 87 from Brady to Eden can be hazardous going, even in an automobile, I worried about a bicycle, towing a kiddie carrier, with a basset hound as a passenger. So, on Saturday, I once more had Marshall and Antigone riding in the truck as we headed to Eden.

That is where we parted. They were heading on to San Angelo and points west. I headed back to Mason.

But, Antigone is chronicling her journey with Marshall, and anyone can keep track of their progress. She has an online blog, complete with pictures of their travels.

Go to:

www.antigonebasset.blogspot.com

You'll find links there to contribute to Basset Hound Rescue, nationally and locally, as well as links to the causes mentioned earlier. You'll see pictures of some of the people and places that Marshall and Antigone have enjoyed along the way. And, you'll understand why, when someone has stood on the edge, they find the best way back to solid ground is to tell their story.

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