Yamba duo off on a ride to save lives
TOMORROW, bike lovers from across Australia will depart for the 2015 Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre, and Clarence Valley Councillor Sue Hughes will be joining them.
"This is my first time actually," she said. "We leave here to go to Brisbane where 400 of us will be making the trip."
This year's charity ride will take participants to Yulara and the nearby Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park, an area with a population of barely 1000 that attracts 100,000s of visitors annually from all over the globe.
"It's really exciting, I've never been to Uluru before so I can't wait to see it myself," Ms Hughes said.
Black Dog Ride began in 2009 when Steve Andrews rode around Australia, raising awareness of the dangers and realities of mental illness.
Driven by the 2008 suicide of Anne Michael, loving wife to his friend Jack Michael, Mr Andrews raised $34,232 for mental illness organisations.
Shortly after Mr Andrews launched the Black Dog Ride charity, his inaugural ride became the basis for the Ride to the Red Centre event.
Since that first ride the Black Dog Ride charity has been built into a national suicide prevention charity, with about $1.7 million raised for mental heath services nationwide over 73 rides.
Black Dog Ride fundraising has allowed Lifeline, a crisis support hotline, to double the hours of its Online Crisis chat support service and funded the training of Mental Health First Aid facilitators.
Black Dog Ride is also currently funding the national rollout of the MHFA teen program to Australian high schools to help teenagers facing mental illness.
Depression is the third largest individual health problem in Australia today. One in six people will experience depression in their lifetime, and more than 50% of them will not seek treatment for it. This year alone over 1.3 million people in Australia will experience a depressive illness.
"The plan is to raise money as we're riding from Brisbane to Uluru from the towns that we pass through," Ms Hughes said. "That money will go to funding the organisations that help people suffering from depression."
"It's a very good cause; raising money and awareness of mental illness is very important."