Illinois men tour with chicken car for mental health awareness

Students driving Chicken Car
Source: Taylor
Source: Taylor
Taylor (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Taylor (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Vassiliadis (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Vassiliadis (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Perez (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Perez (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Three guys, two months, one purpose...and all with a chicken car.
Those are the ingredients for a tour that will spread knowledge to 48 states in two months, with the most recent “roost” at the Cottages of Lubbock at 2001 9th Street Sunday evening.
“It definitely attracts attention,” chicken car owner, Patrick Taylor, said.
Taylor is on this nationwide trip with his friends Nate Perez and Alexander Vassiliadim, all who attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and plan to spread awareness about mental illnesses.
They chose a chicken car to serve as a conversation starter to this topic that can be difficult to talk about.
“I’ve always been embarrassed of it,” Taylor said, “and didn’t fully understand why it happened.”
That is because Taylor purchased the chicken car during a time that represents the reason they began this tour.
It all started six years ago, at the place Taylor bought the car from: the chicken restaurant he worked at.
“I was getting ready to graduate high school,” he said. “I was at a birthday party at the chicken restaurant. My little brother worked there. We had gotten into a physical altercation at the birthday party…I was extremely embarrassed of what I had done.”
That is when Patrick tried to hang himself.
“My younger brother and younger sister actually came in and rescued me,” Taylor said.
He even spent time in a psychiatric hospital.
“It was really like an out-of-body experience,” Taylor said.
Around last August, Patrick shared his story with Perez and Vassiliadis, who are also mental health advocates for personal reasons.
“My mother started having huge psychotic delusional episodes,” Vassiliadis said.
To Perez, it is a relief to speak about these issues with people who understand.
“I also have a family member with borderline personality disorders, which is my mom,” he said.
These men share their stories freely with others they encounter on their road trip with a goal to stop the stigma they claim surrounds mental illness.
They also encourage strangers to share their mental health struggles.
“We take it out of a place of silence,” Vassiliadis said, “to a place where it’s transparent.”
Out of 40 scheduled events, the most challenging stop for Taylor is the last one.
“The last event that we’re hosting is actually in my hometown of Dixon, Illinois,” Taylor said
But with courage, he hopes his testimony will touch the place where this journey truly started. 
“I want to tell them my story, give them my perspective so they understand why it happened, how it happened and how we can prevent it from happening again,” Taylor said, “and I think that’s when we’ll start making a difference.”
Profits from the Chicken's Car's merchandise sales will be donated directly back to mental health organizations that have helped make this trip possible.
To find out how to follow them on the rest of their journey, visit MIA Tour 2016

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