In 2015, Mark led Canada’s largest Ride Don’t Hide team as captain of “Don’t Worry – Just Ride,” a group that counted 130 riders overall.

Considering that more than 6,000 Canadians participated in Ride Don’t Hide last year, building the country’s largest team was no small feat. What’s even more exceptional is that he didn’t do it on purpose.

“It is my pleasure to have created the largest team in Canada, though it wasn’t my goal to start out with,” Mark admits. “Because I’m a cyclist, I have a number of friends that cycle already. So we got together. Then they invited their friends and their relatives to ride for mental health.”

A retired District Chief with the Calgary Fire Department, Mark’s combination of leadership and enthusiasm quickly motivated others to join him in the event. What began as a team of 34 in 2014 more than quadrupled by the next year.

What motivates Mark to put in all this effort? His desire to end stigma. Mark is open about his life with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and wants to help others be similarly vocal about their own experiences.

“I’d like to see society recognize mental illness as an illness, not a weakness. It’s still heavily stigmatized and perceived as something people can just ‘snap out of’ and get on with their lives, instead of being viewed as something like the common cold or the flu. A mental illness is an illness.”

Watch the rest of Mark’s story below:

Video created by GenreShoots.

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