Mental Health Advocate Michael Schratter Completes Epic Worldwide Cycling Journey

Vancouver supporters welcome Michael home with celebratory event following his global ride across six continents and 33 countries over 469 days

VANCOUVER, Nov. 12, 2011 /CNW/ - After a courageous solo bicycle trek around the world, crossing six continents and 33 countries, mental health advocate and Vancouver school teacher Michael Schratter is finally home.

His worldwide, 469-day "Ride Don't Hide" cycling journey has made an indelible impact, raising awareness and helping to overcome the stigma around mental illness for the one in five Canadians who suffer from mental health issues such as depression, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia.

Today, mental health supporters welcomed Michael home as more than 200 cycled along with him from Tsawwassen and Richmond into Vancouver for a celebration event at Rogers Arena, completing his journey. There, Michael shared his adventures from his worldwide trek and personal story with a large crowd of supporters and fans, including Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini and General Manager Mike Gillis, who cycled the final leg with Michael.

A Vancouver school teacher diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, Michael began his "Ride Don't Hide" campaign on August 1, 2010 with the goal of cycling 40,000 km around the globe, and raising $100,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association's youth programs.

All he had was a bike, a knapsack and a determination to live out a dream to create awareness and help empower people dealing with mental health challenges. He started out in Vancouver, rode down through the west coast of the United States, Mexico and South America, flew over to the east coast of Australia and cycled up through Asia and then hopped over to Europe. He did all of this by taking a year off from his job as a grade five teacher, using his own funds to finance the journey as he travelled the globe.

"It's completely surreal to be where I am after almost a year and a half of cycling around the world, waking up in small towns where I was the only foreigner locals had ever seen, to meeting amazing people who understood the mission I was on," says Michael. "It's given me hope that one day soon, people with mental illness won't have to suffer alone in silence or be discriminated against, and will get the support they need. My journey wouldn't have been possible without the tremendous support I've received from everyone at home, and everyone I've met around the world."

Throughout his expedition, Michael Schratter documented a mind-boggling array of experiences on his blog at www.ridedonthide.com: giant sized beetles in Slovenia, behemoth wasps in Argentina, stinky durians in Malaysia (an exotic, but smelly fruit), drinking cobra blood vodka in Vietnam - and proposing to his girlfriend in Hong Kong.

People with mental illness often suffer in silence rather than seek help or talk publicly about their condition, which could have devastating consequences. The untimely deaths of several NHL athletes, including former Vancouver Canuck Rick Rypien, have underscored the importance of Michael's effort to bring mental illness into the light.

"We're tremendously proud of Michael and his team for fulfilling his dream of cycling around world and raising awareness for mental health, and challenging the social stigma people with mental health issues face," says Bev Gutray, Chief Executive Officer of the CMHA BC Division. "He has not only inspired so many Canadians who came out to support him on each of his "Ride Don't Hide" stops, but also people from around the world who have helped him throughout his journey. We're so lucky to have such a heroic individual like Michael be a champion for mental health."

Michael is still trying to reach his $100,000 fundraising goal for mental health programs for young people, and so far, he's raised nearly $65,000. All funds raised will go towards the CMHA BC Division's child and youth initiatives. To help Michael reach his goal, please donate at www.ridedonthide.com.

The CMHA BC Division is a charity which promotes the mental health of all British Columbians through community-based programs and services, public education, advocacy, and research. It is part of a network of more than 10,000 CMHA volunteers and staff in over 135 communities across Canada. CMHA BC Division is the sponsoring organization and facilitator for "Ride Don't Hide" events to raise funds and awareness for CMHA projects. www.cmha.bc.ca 

Image with caption: "Mental health advocate Michael Schratter completed his epic worldwide solo cycling journey in Vancouver today after crossing six continents and 33 countries over 469 days. (CNW Group/Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20111112_C5248_PHOTO_EN_6589.jpg

SOURCE Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

For further information:

Media Contacts:

Yvonne Chiang, BreakThrough Communications Inc., 604-880-5090, y.chiang@breakthroughpr.com

Martin Livingston, BreakThrough Communications Inc., 604-657-8234, m.livingston@breakthroughpr.com

Profil de l'entreprise

Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

Renseignements sur cet organisme


FORFAITS PERSONNALISÉS

Jetez un coup d’œil sur nos forfaits personnalisés ou créez le vôtre selon vos besoins de communication particuliers.

Commencez dès aujourd'hui .

ADHÉSION À CNW

Remplissez un formulaire d'adhésion à CNW ou communiquez avec nous au 1-877-269-7890.

RENSEIGNEZ-VOUS SUR LES SERVICES DE CNW

Demandez plus d'informations sur les produits et services de CNW ou communiquez avec nous au 1‑877-269-7890.