The largest mental health ride in Canada pedalled up almost $59,000 in donations.
More than 200 riders cycled in the seventh annual Ride Don’t Hide event at Creekside Park Sunday, raising $58,939 to date for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Vernon & District Branch, with more donations expected to come in.
The ride takes place in 31 communities across the country, and raises much-needed funds that stay in local communities.
The money supports a variety of community mental health programs and services, and helps to eliminate the stigma of mental illness by inviting participants to “ride in plain sight.”
“It is heartwarming to see such dedicated support from our riders, sponsors and volunteers,” said Julia Payson, executive director of CMHA Vernon. “While our life experiences may vary, we share a common goal that connects and strengthens us. This is a movement; this is our community. We are coming together to end mental health stigma."
The annual ride creates a safe, open community where individuals can talk about their mental health free of judgment.
Special guests included event founder and national ambassador, Michael Schratter and CHMA National CEO, Dr. Patrick Smith.
Schratter, a Vancouver teacher originally from Vernon, had experienced stigma while living with bipolar disorder.
“It occurred to me that, if approximately 20 per cent — or one in five — Canadians experienced a mental health issue in a given year, then where are those seven million Canadians?” asked Schratter.
In 2010, he embarked on a 40,000 km ride around the globe for to raise awareness for mental health. “Stigma stops when we, the twenty per cent, reveal ourselves… mental illness is so common and so varied, it is nothing but an integral part of what it is to be human,” he says.