Riders taking part in the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Peel Dufferin’s fundraiser each have inspiring stories of courage that they hope will inspire others.
Kelly Scanlan, 26, and Alana Ziobroski, 22, both members of Mississauga-based Midweek Cycling Club’s team, are two of many that want to strip away the shame that many with mental health experience and talk about hope and healing.
The duo will ride the scenic roads of Caledon on Sunday, June 25 for CMHA Peel Dufferin’s Ride Don’t Hide.
The 20-kilometre family fun ride will start at the Lloyd Wilson Centennial Park, 5551 McLaughlin Rd., Inglewood, at 8 a.m. The 25, 50 and 100-kilometre routes each have different start times.
“I didn’t always know what anxiety and depression meant, but I’ve been living with their effects on my life long before I reached out for help,” said Brampton’s Ziobroksi. “For me, anxiety and depression have put a fake fear into my life. I was finally able to fight back against these fears once I got help and developed the tools needed to reshape my reality back to what it actually is and not what my mind created it to be. Having the right tools doesn’t mean my illness is gone, it just means I am able to live my life on my terms.”
Ziobroksi, an author, triathlete and mental health advocate, has lived with depression and anxiety for a decade. In 2015, she published her book of poems, Word of Minds I Do Not Know.
Ride Don’t Hide supports CMHA Peel Dufferin’s youth programs. Last year, the program reached approximately 5,000 students.
“Youth Net provides a safe space for young people to talk about stress, anxiety, depression, substance use and more, and also connects youth to programs and services that can provide support,” said Nisha Lewis, manager, communications and resource development, CMHA Peel Dufferin. “This very impactful program is run by one staff member and three students. We can honestly say this program saves lives.”
Scanlan, a Milton resident, served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 10 years and experienced mental health issues relating to her tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2010.
“Struggling with these injuries made it feel like my life was on pause,” said Scanlan, a member of Team Canada for the 2017 Invictus Games. “It was so hard to imagine life would ever move forward again, or that was any purpose to even living life.”
She became numb to the world and was unable to connect with others and found her life stripped off excitement, happiness, passion and joy, except, she found light.
“I believe there’s a way out of the darkness,” she said. “Everyone is different and needs different things, but I do believe you will be able to find something that suddenly makes you feel awake and alive again. You just need to figure out what it is that will help you became part of the world again.”
For more information, visit www.ridedonthide.com.