This September, thousands of cyclists across Canada will come together to raise awareness and funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association.
This event, which is in its 13th year, has local roots. In 2010, Michael Schratter, born and raised in Vernon, embarked on a worldwide bicycle trip that saw him cover 40,000 km and raise $100,000 for the CMHA.
He called his campaign “Ride Don’t Hide,” in an effort to stimulate conversation and overcome some of the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.
Michael has openly shared his experiences with hypomania, a mild form of bipolar, and ADHD. In a 2011 interview with Vancouver Magazine, Michael stated that, in terms of personal courage, his around-the-world trip was nothing in comparison to engaging in conversations with friends and colleagues about mental health.
“Yet one in five people will be treated for some form of mental illness in their lifetimes, and virtually everyone is affected by it,” he said.
Michael was also inspired to begin this campaign to honour his late father, Jack Schratter. Jack was a popular professor of physics and mathematics at Okanagan College who was known to “arrive early, stay late, and always be available to students.”
In 1993, Jack sadly passed away in a cycling-related incident.
In a Vernon News article published shortly after his passing, one of Jack’s former students, Lyn Hartley, suggested that “there is hope coming out of such a tragic loss. The hope lies in knowing students of Jack are strung out across the province, country and world. Each of us taking a little bit of Jack’s inspiration and passing it on to others.”
Following in their father’s footsteps, both Michael and his brother, Ed, have also inspired Canadians across the country, but this time with their commitment to de-stigmatizing mental health. Since its origins in 2010, the Ride Don’t Hide campaign has morphed into a nation-wide movement.
The CMHA is the most extensive community mental health organization in Canada, providing “programs, advocacy and resources that help prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.”
The Vernon branch of the CMHA will be hosting this year’s local Ride Don’t Hide at Polson Park on Sept. 16, 2023. Click here to learn more.
Gwyn Evans is the Head of Archives with the Museum and Archives of Vernon.