CMHA-organized event expected as many as 150 riders this year
Ride Don’t Hide bike ride took place in Kamloops. The ride, put on by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kamloops branch, as well as a committee of volunteers, aimed to both raise funds to help people dealing with mental health issues as well as raise awareness about just how prevalent mental health issues are in Canada.
The ride began in Centennial Park in Westsyde and followed the Thompson River south before looping back to the park.
The event has been growing exponentially, according to CMHA property and office manager Shelley Trudeau, who is also an organizer for the event.
“The first year we had 40 riders, second year we had 80 riders and this year we are expecting 150 riders,” she said.
Over $12,000 was raised by the Kamloops Ride Don’t Hide campaign this year.
The idea of using a bike ride as way to raise awareness about mental health issues began with one man, Michael Schratter. In 2010, the elementary school teacher living in Vancouver rode more than 40,000 km around the world to raise awareness about mental illness in the hopes of eradicating the stigma often associated with it. Upon arriving back in Vancouver, Schratter partnered with the B.C. division of the CMHA in Vancouver and started the first Ride Don’t Hide event.
“It was so successful that they reached out to other branches in B.C. to see if they would be interested in putting on a Ride Don’t Hide event in their community,” Trudeau said.
Kamloops was one of the branches that showed interest.
For volunteer Ingrid Pfeiffer, Ride Don’t Hide is very personal event. Pfeiffer lost her son 12 years ago, only six months after he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“There’s so many other [events] out there … but there really has never been anything for mental health, so that’s our big thing, just to raise the awareness and to let people let go of that stigma.”
By raising awareness, Pfeiffer hopes that those struggling with mental illness will be able to not be ashamed, to “say it out loud.”
One in five Canadians suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime. It makes sense then that the ride and Michael Schratters’ impact would not just be limited to B.C., but would spread further afield.
On June 21, there were rides taking place in four separate provinces across Canada, all of them with the same determination to raise money as well as awareness.
“Across Canada, our numbers right now are at $750,000,” Trudeau said, just short of their target of $1 million.”
Christa Haywood-Farmer, another volunteer, led the 10 km portion of the bike ride on Sunday and spoke to why the event was important to her.
“Every one of us is affected by mental illness, whether it’s personally or through family or friends. This is a really great way to support them.”