Heather joined Ride Don’t Hide last year and in her first year was the top fundraiser for the Lambton-Kent branch of CMHA. She will continue her efforts this year and ride for mental health to support, contribute and help those who suffer from mental challenges.
Mental health has always played an essential role for Heather; she explains that “Sadly, we have lost immediate family to mental health issues and when we almost lost another family member, I knew I had to do more to help.” The need to do more brought Heather to Ride Don’t Hide; she describes the program as a way to take action for an important cause. “When I heard about Ride Don’t Hide I knew it was a proactive way to support mental health, seeking opportunities to participate in the education, dialogue, and programs relating to mental health has been a way to support myself as a caregiver and those I love with mental health issues.”
During her first year Heather was determined to make a difference, her hard work paid off significantly, and she would be recognized and rewarded for her dedication. “When the coordinator for Ride Don’t Hide emailed me to let me know I was the top fundraiser in Lambton-Kent, I was proud of myself for making a difference and contributing to an important cause.” She was presented with a champion jersey and a new bike! The funds accumulated through the Ride Don’t Hide event has gone on to support many programs that the CMHA provide, programs that Heather and her loved ones have learned and benefited from.
The views of our community are changing in regards to mental health; Heather notes that “mental health is slowly starting to get the attention it deserves. Younger generations are starting to talk more openly about mental health issues.” As mental illness has become more of an open topic of conversation, our youth have become more accepting of those who suffer and embrace their peers while open to offering a helping hand. Despite these upward movements in youth’s behaviour Heather says, “We still have a long way to go concerning funding and attitudes but the more we spread awareness, the more we can teach others that mental health is as important as physical health.” As for Heather, she says that her “overall wellness is essential, I cannot take care of the ones I love unless I take care of myself first, it is a balance to make both physical and mental health an equal priority.”
This is why Heather rides, why will you ride?