Local man bikes across state to raise awareness of mental illness recovery

Lloyd Hale plans to bike across South Carolina to raise awareness of people recovering from severe and persistent mental illness.

It's hard to imagine the Lloyd Hale who languished in the Georgetown County jail, a young man so overtaken by delusions that he watched his soul sleep on the cell's bed and heard his brother scream at him from its tiny mirror.

Today, that same Lloyd Hale works as a certified peer support specialist at the Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center. A working family man, raising a young child, he represents what recovery from serious mental illness can look like.

Now, he is taking that message on an eight-day bike ride across South Carolina to raise awareness and resources for the statewide mental health nonprofit SC SHARE.

He's dubbed his effort Ride 4 SPMI, which stands for Severe and Persistent Mental Illness, something Hale deals with as part of his daily life.

He plans to bike from Friday to May 17, from Charleston to Spartanburg and back again.

"Very often our community is bombarded with the stigma of mental illness," Hale said. "This ride is an effort to promote the positive works of people who are recovering."

Hale plans to ride his bicycle 20 to 50 miles each day, stopping at local mental health centers along the way "to share inspiration, offer hope and make an impression upon the perceived possibilities in recovery."

Hale plans to ride mostly along U.S. highways 76 and 176 and stop to speak at centers in Berkeley, Orangeburg, Calhoun, Lexington, Richland, Newberry, Union and Spartanburg counties. He invites people to ride with him.

He also wants the ride to emphasize wellness. For instance, many psychiatric medications can cause weight gain and tiredness, making exercise and healthy eating even more critical to recovery.

SC SHARE, which works to empower people in recovery from psychiatric disorders, is one of the ride's key supporters. Those who want to contribute to Ride 4 SPMI can go to scshare.com or call (803) 739-5712.

Follow Hale's ride on Facebook or on Twitter using the hashtag #Ride4SPMI.

Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563, follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes or subscribe to her at facebook.com/jennifer.b.hawes.