Local, retired plastic surgeon to launch Friendship Bus Tour


BROOKVILLE —Michael G. Leadbetter MD, retired plastic surgeon, will launch his year-long friendship bus tour of the United States in June, raising awareness around the importance of friendship and connection for mental wellness.

The trip is in memory of Leadbetter’s wife, Debbie, his life partner for 49 years. The couple had planned much of the trip before Debbie passed, with the goal of visiting friends around the country, highlighting the significant role friends played in their lives and their mental wellness. Leadbetter intends to donate $25 to Lindner Center of HOPE, a mental health center of excellence in Mason, for every friend he interacts with on his journey.

He is also hopeful that interested individuals that he meets will contribute to Lindner Center of HOPE and/or mental health causes of their own in recognition of his year-long tour. Leadbetter has a list of 150 friends he would like to visit who have played an important part in he and his wife’s journey.

Leadbetter and his wife lost their oldest daughter, who was living with bipolar disorder, to progressive illness caused by years of depression and uncontrolled addiction, in 2020. This devastating loss has fueled his passion for mental health.

“A person can hear, but a friend listens for meaning. A person can look, but a friend sees the heart. A person can know, but a friend understands your dreams. When in need, the Lindner Center of HOPE is where you will find your friends,” Leadbetter shared.

Leadbetter and Lindner Center of HOPE will have a launch party for the friendship bus tour at 2:45 p.m. on Friday, May 19, as part of Lindner Center of HOPE’s Community Education Day at The Manor House in Mason. The community event offers mental health education to local community members during a half-day event that includes a key-note speaker, resource fair and break-out sessions on mental health and wellness topics.

The official tour will begin in Brookville, Leadbetter’s hometown, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, at Golden Gate Park, at a reunion with classmates from the classes of 1965 and 1966.

Leadbetter is a 1965 graduate of Brookville Ohio High School. He graduated from Otterbein University in Westerville, in 1969. In 1974 he graduated from The Ohio State College of Medicine. He completed his general surgery residency at The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He went on to complete his plastic surgery residency at The Christ Hospital, Cincinnati. He was a founding member of the Plastic Surgery Group in Cincinnati where he practiced for 40 years before retiring in 2020. He is a board member of the Reid Rizzo Foundation. He is past president of the Ohio State College of Medicine Alumni Society and a past board member of The Cincinnati Music and Wellness Coalition.

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