Cyclists head out at last year's Ride Don't Hide fundraising event in Penticton.

Cyclists head out at last year's Ride Don't Hide fundraising event in Penticton.

Ride don’t hide event hits KVR trail this weekend

Penticton residents are encouraged to join thousands of Canadians for the Ride Don’t Hide fundraising cycling event on June 26.

Penticton residents are encouraged to join thousands of Canadians for the Ride Don’t Hide fundraising cycling event on June 26.

Cruise along the KVR trail starting at 8 a.m. on Sunday at the KVR School for a 12 kilometre, 24 km or 36 km ride. Participants will receive a shirt, be entered into draws, eligible for prizes for raising the most money. Entertainment will be provided along with a free barbecue lunch.

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s annual cycling fundraiser brings together Canadians of all ages from all walks of life to help break the stigma and raise funds to improve mental health in their community. This year over 8,000 participants will ride in 32 communities to help raise over $1.5 million for mental health.

Ride Don’t Hide organizers encourage the public to invite their co-workers, friends and family to join a team. The event is for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Cyclists will be supported from start to finish with rest stops, water to fuel the journey and fans to cheer them on.

Individuals, families and teams can register online at www.ridedonthide.com. Children under 12 years old ride for free and each registrant is given a personal online fundraising page. Those who can’t make the ride can register as a “virtual rider” for free and will receive their own personal fundraising page.

The Ride Don’t Hide movement began in 2010 when Michael Schratter, a Vancouver teacher, embarked on a global journey to cycle 40,000 km, crossing six continents and 33 countries to raise funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association. His mission was to circumnavigate the world to help battle mental illness stigma — one pedal at a time. The 2010-2011 Ride Don’t Hide campaign reached millions of people and raised $100,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association child and youth mental health programs.

Building on this momentum, in 2012, the Ride Don’t Hide community bike rides engaged over 500 participants in B.C. raising over $85,000 for Canadian Mental Health Association. In 2013, with Shoppers Drug Mart as its title sponsor, 2,500 participants raised over $500,000 for mental health programs. in 2014, Ride Don’t Hide continued to grow nationally with 20 community bike rides across four provinces raising over $800,000. Last year it grew to 27 community rides raising over $1.5 million. This year, organizers are expecting the largest turnout yet.

Ride Don’t Hide raises awareness and funds to make a significant impact in the communities that host them. Money raised supports suicide prevention programs, training for youth ages 13 to 18 to deal with stress, telephone and group services for adults facing depression and anxiety, supportive employment, a clubhouse with a meals program and social/recreation activities and funding to support mental wellness.