Bikers take off the from the starting point of Eden Foundation's Head for the Hills fundraiser on Sept. 9, 2017. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)
222 bikers showed up on Saturday Sept. 9, bright and early, to take to their bikes and raise money for Eden Health Care Services.
“We are very excited to have so many participants, so many supporters of those who are having challenges of mental health,” Eden CEO Analyn Einarson said. “What it does for those people is it shows that there is community support for them. It gives them that hope that people are there to support them in their journey of healing.”
The annual Head for the Hills bike ride is in its 15th year, and support for the cause has been spreading. It was started by former CEO James Friesen, who participated in the ride this year.
“This has taken a life of its own,” Einarson said. “The previous CEO [said] ‘Let’s do something that’s going to bring the community together to show support.’ They certainly did not foresee that it was going to be this big.”
The ride raised $170,000, $20,000 more than last year.
The bike ride followed two different trails that ran for 36 km and ended with a BBQ for participants. The RM even sent a grader out to smooth the gravel path the night before the ride.
Eden Health Care is also celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, which makes the bike ride and the money raised extra special.
“I started on June 19,” Einarson said. “From my very first day it has already impressed me how much community support Eden receives and how much community support there is for people in the journey of their mental health and with mental illness. It’s amazing. It’s true community spirit.”
Einarson said the demand for services has been increasing over the years. “This is why Eden is hopeful both the provincial and federal governments are putting in money specifically for mental health,” she said. “That means they recognize that mental health is significant as a challenge and an issue in our community. Instead of lumping it with health in general, there’s actually mental health issues.”
The money raised is going to Eden Foundation, which supports all the programs of Eden Health Care, like their recovery counselling program and the health care centre.