Decorated Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes will visit Osoyoos in late May

By on April 16, 2014

The most decorated female Canadian Olympian in history is coming to Osoyoos.

Clara Hughes, who has competed in and won medals in both the winter and summer Olympics in cycling and speed skating, is cycling across Canada to raise awareness and funding for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Clara’s Big Ride started the second week of March and will see Hughes ride into town on Thursday, May 22 at the Sonora Community Centre.

The Town of Osoyoos and the Mental Wellness Centre (BC Schizophrenia Society Penticton Branch) are co-sponsoring this event, which is expected to draw a large crowd of supporters, said Sarah Dynneson, program supervisor at the Sonora Centre.

“Clara’s entourage contacted us back in November or December once the final details were revealed for her trip across Canada,” said Dynneson. “When we were informed Osoyoos would be one of the places where she would be stopping on her tour, it was pretty exciting. We’re really looking forward to being part of this event and having Clara come to Osoyoos.”

By donating to this event, local residents can help raise funds for the Mental Wellness Centre to provide direct support to individuals affected by mental illness and their families.

The event will begin with displays by community resource organizations.

A Zumba class will start at 6.15 pm followed by a reception when Hughes will speak.

Local citizens are invited to participate in the event. Citizens are encouraged to indicate their intent to participate in the local event by signing up online at http://mdsc.akaraisin.com/Osoyoos2014 to create and personalize their own fundraising profile page.

To donate through Clara’s Big Ride you can sign in at https://chimp.net/charities/b-c-schizophrenia-society-penticton-branch.

This is a great opportunity to help break down the barrier of stigma, which is so often associated with mental illness, and get people talking about their mental well-being, said Sharon Evans, president of the B.C. Schizophrenia Society’s Penticton office.

When asked why she is participating in the Defeat Depression campaign, Evans said, “As family members, we are dedicated to creating a caring community when a person has a mental illness. The reason I want to do this is to make a positive difference. I want to help those who struggle with their mental health and those who care about them to share their stories and open the lines of communication so that both feel comfortable asking for help and reaching out”.

Defeat Depression is a national mental health awareness, anti-stigma and fundraising campaign that provides hope, raises awareness and reduces stigma for people affected by depression and other mood disorders.

Across Canada, volunteers are organizing walks, runs and other physical and social activities to get people talking about and moving for mental health.

Physical activities like walking and running, along with community engagement and social interaction, have a demonstrated positive effect on mental health.

During her kickoff press conference in Toronto in early March, Hughes said she wanted to lead an “epic” experience with other Canadians.

Hughes, who has talked extensively about her battles against depression, embarked on a 12,000-kilometre journey to raise awareness about mental health.

Clara’s Big Ride is a part of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Hughes captured a gold medal, one silver medal and two bronze medals in Olympic speed skating and two bronze medals in cycling. She captured 13 World Cup speed skating medals during her remarkable career.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

 

 

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