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Cycling with a cause

Andres Martin, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and prominent member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), is on a bike ride across the country raising awareness of the challenges faced by children with mental illnesses. Martin on Monday stopped at the Corn Palace in Mitchell before visiting the Abbott House. (Matt Gade / Republic)

For a child psychiatrist turned cross-country bicyclist, stopping in Mitchell was exactly halfway between his start and end destination.

Andrés Martin is leading the project, Break the Cycle, an ambitious endeavour of cycling from Seattle to Washington, D.C. in less than three months. His goal is to raise funds and awareness about children's mental health issues.

"Children's mental health illnesses are real, common and treatable," said Martin on Monday.

Martin stopped in Mitchell to tour the Corn Palace and to meet with Deb Sturdevant, program director of the Abbott House. The Abbott House is a residential treatment center for young women ages seven to 23 suffering from abuse and trauma.

"It is fitting that on 9/11, on a day when the country was traumatized, I am visiting a center that helps young people cope with trauma," said Martin.

As a child psychiatrist who works at Yale Child Study Center and at Yale New Haven Children's Hospital in Connecticut, Martin understands the importance of having a reliable and good residential treatment option for children with mental health issues.

Martin toured the Abbott House facility and was impressed with the service it provides for young females in South Dakota.

"It is nice he stopped to recognize and learn about the services we provide for young people," said Sturdevant.

The Break the Cycle campaign has already raised $150,000 in funds, but Martin has a goal of reaching $200,000 by the time he reaches Washington, D.C. All the donations Martin has raised will go to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

On Monday's visit, Martin hoped to see more sites like the Abbott House throughout South Dakota.

"It is a beautiful quality place," said Martin. "The only hope is there can be more places like the Abbott House in the state."

Martin's start and end points correlate with annual AACAP meetings, this year's meeting is in Washington, D.C. and in 2018 the meeting will be held in Seattle.

Martin spent four days cycling across the state as of Monday, and he will head to Sioux Falls on Wednesday.

"South Dakota is a bigger state than I realized," he said. "And there is a lot of wind."

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