Canadian Cyclist to Cross the Country in 100 Day Ride to Raise Awareness for Mental Health



    TORONTO, May 4 /CNW/ - A special cycling trek from Vancouver to St.
John's begins on May 20th, when 60-year-old Mel Thompson dips his wheels in
the Pacific Ocean and starts to pedal eastward. During his 100 day journey
across Canada, Thompson hopes The Ride for Mental Health will raise awareness
about mental illness and get people talking about the issues surrounding it.
    Although mental illness affects one in five Canadians at some point in
their lives, there is still a social stigma attached to mental illness that
keeps many people from seeking the help they need. It is the disease that no
one likes to talk about, but it has a devastating impact on people who suffer
from it, their families and society in general. The Ride for Mental Health
aims to bring the issues of mental illness out in the open, get people to
share their own experiences with it, and debunk the myths and misconceptions
of mental illness.
    Mel Thompson understands first-hand the struggles of dealing with mental
illness. His ride is inspired by his daughter Lindsay, who was diagnosed with
schizoaffective disorder as a teenager. "No one is immune from mental illness
and when it hits you, or someone you love, you are never prepared," says
Thompson. "But there is treatment and recovery and that is how our family
stays optimistic. Lindsay hopes to one day be able to return to school and
work and we hope these dreams will come true."
    In addition to raising awareness, The Ride for Mental Health aims to
raise $250,000 to support mental health programs across Canada. People who
wish to donate can visit the website at www.therideformentalhealth.org and
select the mental health charity or charities they would like to support.
    Thompson, a vice president for Xerox Canada, is getting support for his
100 day trek from several corners, including corporate sponsors, current and
retired Xerox employees, the Canadian Mental Health Association and most
importantly, his family. Thompson's wife Carol is driving the support vehicle
and his daughter Lindsay will be riding sections of the route whenever
possible.
    "Our hope is that we can help people gain a higher level of understanding
and acceptance of mental illness," says Carol Thompson. "It's time to change,
so open the doors; let's take mental illness out of the shadows and into the
light."
    The Ride for Mental Health will finish in St. John's, Newfoundland where
Thompson will dip his bike wheels in the Atlantic Ocean. During his journey
across Canada, Thompson will also make stops in several cities for a series of
events designed raise awareness of mental health issues.

    
    These scheduled stops are:

    Vancouver (ride kick off event) - Tuesday, May 19th
    Calgary - Tuesday, June 2nd
    Winnipeg - Monday, June 22nd
    Thunder Bay - Wednesday, July 1st
    Toronto - Friday, July 17th
    Toronto - Wednesday July 22nd
    Ottawa - Monday July 27th
    Montreal - Thursday July 30th
    Saint John, N.B. - Wednesday August 12th
    Halifax - Thursday August 20th
    St. John's, Nfld. (ride finish) - Saturday, August 29th
    

    About Mel Thompson:

    60 year old Mel Thompson is a fitness enthusiast and business executive
who has worked at Xerox Canada for 29 years. Thompson is on a sabbatical from
work to train for and complete The Ride for Mental Health. He and his wife
Carol have four children, including his eldest daughter Lindsay, who inspired
his cross-country journey. Thompson is an alumnus of York University, the
University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario.
    For more information on The Ride for Mental Health please visit
www.therideformentalhealth.org






For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Ben Thompson, Phone: (416)
831-0749, ben.thompson@ryerson.ca

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