More than 150 riders cycled through the country surrounding St. Jacobs in the Canadian Mental Health Association’s second annual Ride Don’t Hide event on Sunday.
The annual cycling fundraiser raised some $40,000 for the CMHA Waterloo Wellington chapter. The event aims to help improve mental health in the community and break the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Despite the minor storm that hit the route for a brief period, all riders were safely taken care of for a successful fundraising event.
“We were thrilled with how it turned out. Despite the rain, hail, and thunder, so many people came out, over 150 riders, to raise awareness and funds for mental health – a really powerful thing to see,” said Martin Bauman, co-organizer for the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington Ride Don’t Hide 2017 event.
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“Everyone was alright, thankfully,” he said, noting there were truck drivers on route to pick up stranded riders.
The event has its origins in the efforts of Vancouver teacher Michael Schratter, who in 2010 biked 40,000 kilometres across six continents and 33 countries on a mission to raise awareness about mental illness, combat the stigma surrounding it and raise funds for CMHA.
“Michael had experience with bipolar disorder so he was going across the world, telling his story and meeting people along the way. That then grew as he got back home,” said Bauman. “So it has grown from just one guy, Michael, to now happening coast to coast.”
Upon his return, the first Ride Don’t Hide bike ride in BC’s Lower Mainland in 2012 saw 500 participants raise $135,000. Since then, the ride has grown to encompass more than 30 communities in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador generating approximately $4-million for local mental health programs across Canada.
First coming to the Waterloo Region last year, the event was a major success. This year, they well surpassed their 2017 goal of $32,000, bringing in just over $40,000, said Bauman.
“It is wonderful to see. We had hoped that we would be able to grow from last year,” he said, noting $15,000 was raised in 2016. “We wanted to see where we could take that this year, it has been awesome to see how riders and the community have responded.”
The riders, new and returning, cycled through a variety of routes, 8- to 80-km, that brought them through Woolwich and Wellesley townships.
Sally Sarachman participated in the 25km ride for the first time on Saturday.
“I think it is really important that we talk about mental health in a way that is encouraging and inclusive. So when you tell people, ‘I’m doing this ride this weekend, it is Ride Don’t Hide’, I think it is a really great way to start the conversation,” she said.
Not only growing in fundraising, the ride saw participation up from 130 cyclists to over 150 for the fun rides.
The CMHA in Waterloo Wellington is Canada’s largest CMHA chapter, proving full care system for some 10,000 children, adults and seniors, with additions mental health, or developmental needs.