June 16th, 2024

Riding to support mental health

By Al Beeber on June 8, 2021.

Herald photo by Al Beeber - Kathy Mitschke, right, talks to a participant in the Ride Don't Hide fundraising walk and bicycle ride Sunday organized by an outreach committee of Immanuel Lutheran Church for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Blustery weather couldn’t stop 58 people from supporting a mental health initiative called Ride Don’t Hide Sunday.
The Canadian Mental Health Association initiative is the largest mental health fundraising bike ride in Canada and is also, say organizers, a movement for mental health.
The Lethbridge event was spearheaded by Kathy Mitschke and her husband Bruce who wanted to make a donation to charity on his 60th birthday.
The couple chose the CMHA and “we knew this event was happening across Canada,” said Kathy MItschke at the Immanuel Lutheran Church staging grounds at the corner of University Drive West and Rocky Mountain Boulevard.
The Mitschkes are members of the church and the ride is part of a community outreach program.
“We haven’t been able to do a lot,” because of COVID, Kathy said, but the ride allows organizers and participants to follow social distancing restrictions.
“”As a church community , we try to reach out to the community and over COVID it’s not been easy.. . .we felt we wanted to do something we could actually physically be together” while adhering to social distancing rules, she said, adding that one in five Canadians are afflicted by mental illness.
Bicyclists and walkers were scheduled in groups up to five running every 15 minutes until 2 p.m. Bicyclists had a 10-kilometre route that took them to The Crossings and back through various neighbourhoods while walkers followed the Canyon Parkway to Paradise Canyon and over to Riverstone before heading back to the church.
Physical activity is a way to combat the effects of mental illness and the local fundraiser was a way of providing help for mental health initiatives while getting people active.
“We know that physical activity promotes mental health and helps people to feel better,” Mitschke said.
“So this is where we start, the whole month of June is a fundraiser for Canadian mental health but in reality, for this event in particular, Ride Don’t Hide, people can donate all the way to the end of June,” she said.
“We noticed this was happening throughout Canada and we decided to donate towards it. So then this year, how it’s working this year is actually taking it into our church. We have an outreach committee that does events to help promote community support. With COVID we haven’t been able to do a lot because of restrictions so we decided that we do this event because we could stick with the COVID restrictions and also because we were passionate about it.”
The church committeee consists of about six people including its pastor.
People can still donate to Ride Don’t Hide until the end of June online at https: //cmha/donordrive.com/team6432.
David Gabert, communications lead and project co-ordinator for the Lethbridge office of the CMHA, said the work of the Immanuel church committee is valuable for fundraising efforts.
“We’re a small organization in Lethbridge so we don’t have the resources to organize a lot of fundraisers.”

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