The annual Ride Don’t Hide event is approaching, and Angela Kirkland is hoping for the biggest one yet.
“This is our sixth year, and our goal is 400 riders,” said Kirkland, fund development and communications coordinator for the Canadian Mental Health Association of Lambton-Kent. “There’s isn’t another event in town quite like this one.”
Ride Don’t Hide, the largest mental health bike ride in Canada, raises funds to support essential mental health programs and services in more than 25 communities.
Locally, the event will be held June 23 at the Moore Sports Complex, where participants are invited to walk/ride the 8km route along the St. Clair River Trail, or ride the 20km or 50km routes. Many ride in memory of loved ones, or as a sign of their commitment to ending mental health stigma, Kirkland said.
“We are so thrilled to provide an event where people in this community can come out, share their lived experiences, talk about mental health, and learn more about the organization,” said Kirkland, noting the event has raised $220,000 in the last five years, and hopes to raise another $75,000 this year.
All proceeds go to support local CMHA community outreach services, including suicide education in all area schools.
Registration has been slow this year, Kirkland said, pointing to the damp spring. Riders are encouraged to register – as individuals, families or teams – ahead of time, and volunteers are always needed.
One in five Canadians experiences a mental illness or mental health issue in any given year, and demand for services locally continues to climb, Kirkland said.
“People are becoming more comfortable with seeking help, and the stigma is diminishing.”
For the second year in a row, the event will also take place at Rondeau Provincial Park.
This also marks the fifth year for the school-wide Ride Don’t Hide event, which has expanded to eight local schools since its inception at Cathcart Blvd. Some 500 students will ride at Canatara Park on June 11.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Ride Don’t Hide for CMHA Lambton-Kent
WHEN: June 23, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (register at 7 a.m.)
WHERE: Moore Sports Complex, St. Clair Township (second location, Rondeau Provincial Park)
DETAILS: Registration $45 (until June 22) includes t-shirt, breakfast, entertainment, BBQ lunch; youth 12 and under ride for free. For more, including volunteer information, visit ridedonthide.com or contact CMHA Lambton-Kent