Michael first joined Ride Don’t Hide because a friend, noticing that Michael had become involved in cycling, suggested he try the Ride Don’t Hide event. His friend had known about the program because his Mom was on the planning committee and felt that it would be a good fit for Michael. “It’s special to connect a suggestion from a good friend to support a cause that I hold dearly in my heart.” Riding long-distances greatly appeals to Michael, but the more involved he got with Ride Don’t Hide the more passionate he became about the fundraising side. “The real credit goes to my friends and family who have supported me and who have donated. Thank you!” Michael has almost fundraised three thousand dollars over the past two years for Ride Don’t Hide, a “crucial charity.”
The most memorable moment for Michael happened during last year’s ride. It started out well and was beautiful throughout but became challenging at the end. “My legs cramped up good with a few kilometers to go.” But Michael peddled hard and overcame this physical challenge to complete the Ride. Despite last year’s challenge, Michael explained that “this year, thanks to a very thoughtful birthday gift from my lovely girlfriend, I will have two water bottles on my bike. That should help on a 100km ride.” With a solution in hand, Michael is sure to succeed once more now that he will be well hydrated.
Michael has seen mental illness impact some of his friends in a way that he’ll never forget. “Societally we are unaware of how many people struggle with mental health issues. There is hardly a vocabulary to discuss it while there are many stigmas.” As Michael writes his responses, the news of Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s tragic deaths have been all over the news, another sign that we need to be aware and make programs available to help those in need. “There are also the lonely many who pass away and don’t make the headlines.” Mental health is important to Michael because mental illness is so pervasive in our society while being so misunderstood and our culture is increasingly becoming one where mental health is sacrificed.
When asked what advice he would give to those struggling with mental health, Michael’s response was, “you are worthy. You are loved.” But the audience he’d really like to advise are those who don’t struggle with the stigma of mental illness: “one can never know for sure the anguish someone may be experiencing in their interior life. So, with that in mind, let your words be kind and gentle and always try your best to love those around you.”
This is why Michael rides: why will you ride?