Organizers and supporters of Ride Don’t Hide Jesse Giddens (left

Organizers and supporters of Ride Don’t Hide Jesse Giddens (left

CMHA launches Ride Don’t Hide campaign

The Williams Lake Ride Don't Hide takes place June 22 at the River Valley Trail.

Ride Don’t Hide.

That’s the message from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Cariboo Chilcotin branch, which kicked off its Ride Don’t Hide campaign last week with a call to cyclists across the Cariboo Chilcotin.

On June 22, cyclists in 19 communities across Canada will come together to “Ride Don’t Hide” to support better mental health for all.

CMHA branches across Canada have pledged to recruit more than 4,500 cyclists on June 22. CMHA’s Cariboo Chilcotin branch has committed to providing 40 of those riders.

All funds raised will be used to support CMHA’s mental health programs and services.

“Our vision is mentally healthy people in a healthy society,” said Peter Coleridge, national CEO for CMHA. “’Ride Don’t Hide’ is an ideal way to promote mental and physical health.”

Ride Don’t Hide was inspired by Michael Schratter, a Vancouver school teacher living with bipolar disorder, who cycled 40,000 kilometres around the globe, inspiring millions of people while raising $100,000 for CMHA in 2011.

Now, thanks to the support of companies and organizations across Canada, Ride Don’t Hide has expanded to have rides in four provinces, mobilizing thousands in support of mental health.

“CMHA serves more than 500,000 Canadians each year,” said Bev Gutray, CEO of CMHA BC Division. “Ride Don’t Hide is so important because it raises the profile of mental health for everyone — men, women, children and youth, allowing them to enhance their mental and physical health by coming out to the ride.

“Funds from Ride Don’t Hide will be directed towards one of many mental health programs, such as ‘Living Life to the Fullest,’ a program that provides people life management skills that will help them cope with life’s challenges.”

The event gives women such as Michelle Mulder, a highly-acclaimed, Victoria-based author of children’s books, the choice to ride for mental health.

“Mental illnesses of all kinds carry a huge stigma,” Mulder said. “Depression in particular is something we don’t talk about. Many people see it as some kind of personal failing, and very few people are willing to step in when they see another person struggling with depression.

“For these reasons, I will be riding and supporting Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don’t Hide.”

Ride Don’t Hide in Williams Lake takes place June 22 at the top of the River Valley Trail on Mackenzie Avenue with registration beginning at noon. This is the second year the ride will take place in Williams Lake.

“Everyone is welcome,” said Ian McLaughlin, executive director for CMHA, Cariboo Chilcotin branch. “We’ve had great local sponsorship and we’re hoping to get a few more riders out this year.”

See www.ridedonthide.com to learn more and to sign up for the ride.