In the wake of the shooting in El Paso, the organization Ride to Heal our Brothers & Sisters brought a Texas flag to the Market Street on 50th and Indiana as they make their way across the state. Their goal – to obtain signatures on a Texas flag from members of the community – included stops in many major cities across Texas.
Angela Bowers, a registered nurse and member of the Ride to Heal Our Brothers & Sisters organization, said the organization is a group of different emergency responders banded together to raise awareness of mental health in the emergency response fields.
“We are here to show support for the first responders in El Paso as well as bring awareness about what the first responders endure,” she said.
The organization supports all types of emergency responders, including police, firefighters, and others, Bowers said.
“We want first responders to be happy, healthy, and whole both physically, mentally, and emotionally,” she said.
The stigma around mental health in the emergency response field needs more awareness, especially in the wake of tragedies such as the shooting in El Paso, Bowers said.
“(Emergency responders) can’t talk about things and they’re just going home and continuing to lead normal lives without venting, without opening up,” she said.
The flag has been to Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Dallas for the communities to sign it, Bowers said. After stopping in Midland-Odessa and Fort Stockton, they will deliver the flag to El Paso.
“I think this has probably been the biggest response so far, it’s been really good,” she said. “A really good response from the first responders, from firefighters, the (Lubbock) PD, everybody, the community. We just see people here that are wanting to know what’s going on and their wanting to sign.”
Bowers urges those who know someone who is a first responder to check up on his or her mental health.
“Find out how everybody’s doing because a lot of people internalize things and won’t say anything until it’s kind of too late,” she said. “So we just want people to get the help that they need.”
Gary Boyles, the Store Director for the Market Street at 50th and Indiana, said the flag signing provided the community an opportunity for healing and awareness.
“This event is to give a platform, an opportunity for folks to come out and play their tribute to the victims and the families of the shooting victims in El Paso,” he said.
Events such as the flag signing show the significance of communities coming together for bigger causes, Boyles said.
“I think it’s very important just to show the support of the communities and how we as citizens can get together and support the victims and the families of all the victims,” he said.
The United Family, Boyles pointed out, strives to support the community, and this event proved another platform where they can give back.
“This absolutely makes me humble and honored that United Family and the citizens of Lubbock would do something like this for people with such trauma outside of our city,” he said.
Kasie Whitley, the United Communications Coordinator, said the event began to take shape after Officer Amanda Jackson of the Lubbock Police Department reached out to United.
“Officer Amanda Jackson with the Lubbock Police Department, she reached out to me over the weekend and we began coordination efforts with the organizers of the Ride to Heal Our Brothers and Sisters, and we’ve been organizing since Monday morning,” she said.
Officer Jackson’s mother, Whitely said, is part of the Ride to Heal Our Brothers & Sisters organization.
For college students, shootings are an increasing concern, especially on campus, Whitley said.
“The United Family is based out of Lubbock, Texas and we recognize that we have a lot of college students from Texas Tech,” she said. “We recognize that unfortunately we do live in a day and age where that is a concern.”
Despite this fear, Whitley said United’s goal was to promote support for the community as much as possible.
“But you know, the really great part of this is we get to show our support for victims of this absolutely horrible tragedy that’s occurred.”