Cyclists raise money for mental health

NANAIMO - More than 22,000 riders from 13 communities, including Nanaimo, raised $400,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association of B.C.

Cyclists from across the province banded together to help support mental health programs for women and their families.

More than 22,000 riders, from 13 communities, hit the road this summer during the Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don’t Hide event hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association of B.C.

The ride was held June 23 across B.C. It raised more than $400,000. The money will be used for programs such as enjoy your baby programs that teach new mothers how to cope with stress and anxiety following childbirth.

The Nanaimo Ride Don’t Hide event had 64 cyclists and they raised more than $6,500.

“I would like to thank everyone – especially our event sponsor Shoppers Drug Mart – for making the first Ride Don’t Hide event such a tremendous success,” said Anne Hodge, mid-Island branch executive director. “It was truly inspiring to see so many people come out to support their family members, friends, co-workers, neighbours – anyone living with mental illness.”

Bev Gutray, CMHA’s B.C. branch chief executive officer, said the event demonstrates the positive direction in how Canadians are viewing mental illnesses and how people are living with mental health issues.

“Next year, we hope to substantially increase the number of participating communities as we look to eventually make this a national event,” said Gutray.

Gutray said of the 80,000 people who access the organization’s services each year 70 per cent are women and families.

The event was inspired by Michael Schratter, a Vancouver school teacher who cycled more than 40,000 kilometres in 33 countries to battle the stigma of mental illness.

Donations are still being accepted for the campaign. To donate or for more information please go to www.ridedonthide.com or call 250-758-1803.