LA GRANDE, Ore. -- A memorial service will be held Thursday for Joseph Bell of La Grande, Ore. who died last week while walking across the country to raise awareness after his son committed suicide in January.
Bud Hill, Bell's close friend, was shaken by the tragic loss. He said offers have been pouring in from people wanting to help continue Bell's legacy with Faces For Change, one of the organizations Bell was walking for.
Bell, 48, was pronounced dead Wednesday on a highway in eastern Colorado when a semi-driver from Texas fell asleep at the wheel, striking and killing him.
Background: OR dad killed on walk honoring dead gay son
In August, Bell began his national trek across the country to raise awareness about bullying and suicide prevention after his gay son, Jadin Bell, hanged himself at a La Grande grade school. Jadin died two weeks later in a Portland hospital.
"Joe had a lot of influence in the time he was out there," Hill said. "I honestly believe, between him and Jadin, there are people who changed their mind."
Joe and Jadin's story already stopped one young man from committing suicide, and he is scheduled to speak at the memorial service, which will be held at 2 p.m. at the Gilbert Event Center at Eastern Oregon University, Hill said.
For now, Hill is taking time to reflect on the influence his friend had on young people around the county. He is determined to keep his vision and legacy going. He just has to figure out how.
"We just have to keep it going. We Will keep it going," he said.
Thursday's service in La Grande is open to the public.