Wake County teens keep friend's memory alive with Average Joe Army

Andrea Blanford Image
Sunday, July 5, 2020
Wake County teens keep friend's memory alive with Average Joe Army
A growing group of Wake County teenagers are making it their mission to spread happiness to others, not long after one of their friends lost their life to suicide.

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. (WTVD) -- Not long after a group of Wake County teenagers lost their friend to suicide, they decided to make it their mission to spread happiness to others, especially during this isolating time of the pandemic.

The Average Joe Army started with one simple act of kindness and has been growing ever since.

On what would have been Joe Bickers's 23rd birthday last month, his friends gathered to remember the young man who, in September 2019, took his own life.

Dillon Baker, 18, of Garner, formed a fast friendship with Joe shortly before his death, bonding over their shared love for trucks and fast cars.

"Joe, he had just got himself a Camaro,' said Baker. "And that's still my favorite car."

Joe's license plate read, 1AVGJOE, but his friends say he was anything but average.

His presence has been missed greatly, especially back when Easter rolled around. His mom, Aimee Bickers, was grief-stricken from yet another loss in the family, this time, amid the early days of the pandemic.

Baker, with the help of his mom Peggy, decided to do something special.

"We decided, let's go by her house and just give her a flower and I showed up at the house first," Peggy said. "The guys stayed back and I brought her outside and each one of them handed her a flower."

It was a car parade outside the Bickers Fuquay-Varina home, at least 30 cars long.

"She absolutely loved it," Peggy said. "And from then on it just kind of- there was other people who wanted to do something for their loved one."

Average Joe Army was formed. The large group of Joe's friends have been showing up for birthday parades and surprise visits with people facing all kinds of struggles, honoring the life of their friend.

"He was a very uplifting person," Dillon said. "He could never let one person just be very upset or very sad. He would always have to make that person happy or smile. He would do anything in his power. He'd go buy you something to eat, he'd do anything, take you for a ride in his car."

The group said their acts of kindness seem to go a long way amid the pandemic, which can be isolating for many.

"There's people out there especially right now who are struggling and I want them to know that hey, we're here for you," said Peggy. "It doesn't matter what you're struggling from what you're going through."

They'd love to see the group continue to grow, but Dillon said even impacting one life for the better would be worth it.

"I would help just about anybody that I could, any chance that I get," he said.

You learn more about Average Joe Army on the group's Facebook page.