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Rescue Riders tour to raise awareness about mental health, homelessness

Pastor Brandan Thomas, who leads Winchester Rescue Mission in Virginia, stopped Monday morning at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission on his way to Los Angeles for the final leg of his Rescue Ride.

“I’ve always dreamed of stopping at rescue missions and staying there and really seeing what’s happening … as well as checking out the barriers that people face,” said Thomas, who was accompanied by other riders on Harley-Davidsons.

“You need to know these guys and hear their stories, and think for the most part, ‘It could be me,’” he said.

The rescue missions provide beds at night and a daily community meal. They’re Christian-based nonprofits and have a chapel with services. The Las Vegas Rescue Mission also houses people for a one-year recovery and substance abuse program.

Thomas has raised about $74,000 for his mission and mainly hopes to raise awareness about mental health and learn from other rescue missions. He planned to spend Monday night at the shelter on Bonanza Road and learn from staffers and clients about homelessness here.

He is inspired by his father, who was a diagnosed schizophrenic with manic disorder and died in 2013.

“What they’re doing is so authentic. … It sounds like such an incredible journey,” Las Vegas Rescue Mission CEO Heather Engle said.

“(Thomas is) taking it to where it needs to be; these are things that bring light to life.”

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