More than 200 riders took part in the 7th annual Ride Don’t Hide at Creekside Park in Coldstream
Sunday’s event has raised $58,939 for the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Vernon Branch, with donations still coming in.
The ride took place in 31 Canadian communities.
The funds raised support a variety of community mental health programs and services, and help 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,” says 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.”
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 twenty 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.
The Vernon ride is one of the most successful Ride Don’t Hide events in the country, last year raising more funds per capita than any other community.
This year, local team ‘Liam’s Lunar Lemurs,’ raised more than $30,000, coming in as the second-highest fundraising team nationally.
The team was established by volunteer event committee member Sheila Stainton, in memory of her son.
Photo courtesy of CMHA Vernon