I ran into Joanna Abernethy on a lonely stretch of highway 12 near the Idaho/Montana border while filming the Trans Am Bike Race. We pulled up behind her as she slowly pedaled her heavy looking bike along side the Lochsa River, deep in the Clearwater National Forest. Thinking she would be interesting content for the video, we stopped to chat with her about her trip across the states. Joanna told us she was from Australia, and that she was touring the trans am bike route as a tribute for Martin Luther King Jr. She glowed when she spoke of him and handed us business cards with some sage words of advice on them. I thought she was so cool for tackling this adventure by herself. I admired her courage.
I found out the other day that Joanna was killed by a drunk driver in Indiana, 500 miles from Washington D.C., where she was hoping to finish her trip. For a while, I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t really know her that well, and yet I found myself tearing up inside, thinking of the brief time we had spent together. Joanna, you were somebody that sought change; a mother, a dreamer, and even though our meeting in life was brief, you had a profound impact on me and everyone else you met along the way. If it’s any comfort, know that we carry your message of peace and equality with us each and every day of our lives. You will be missed dearly.