KeepHealthCare.ORG – Getting loud about mental health at the annual Ride Don’t Hide cycling fundraiser across the Okanagan – Okanagan
Over 7,000 participants in 31 communities across Canada set their alarms this morning to participate in the Ride Don’t Hide cycling fundraiser.
The event is hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). In the Okanagan, several cities and regional districts participated, including Vernon, Shuswap/Revelstoke, South Okanagan Similkameen and Kelowna.
The goal of the ride is to cycle in plain sight of the community to put an end to the stigma of mental health.
According to CMHA, one in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime. Many are children who may not be equipped with the tools or resources to get help.
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In Kelowna, about 400 riders participated in the event, which has raised over $82,000 to date.
Many of the participants were riding for a family member affected by mental illness — participants like Shadia Doty, who lost her brother Ryan and her friend Georgia to addiction and mental health issues. “It was really hard to watch and go through that,” Doty said, “because we didn’t understand a lot about mental health at that time.”
Doty and her family were the top fundraising team in Kelowna, raising over $12,000 on their own.
The Kelowna ride is dedicated to the memory
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of Payton and Dillon Budd, two local teenage brothers who committed suicide after struggling with mental illness.
Jessica Samuels, communication and events manager at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Kelowna branch, spoke candidly about the teenage tragedy and why the ride is so important.
“The whole point of that,” she said, “is that the community can come together, rally together, so that anyone who is struggling with mental illness, who is having thoughts of suicide, knows that they’re not alone.”
Funds are still being collected in communities across Canada. To make a donation to the Kelowna branch, visit the Ride Don’t Hide website.
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