Canadian Olympic cyclist brings mental illness message by bicycle

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A Canadian Olympic medalist is carrying her message to end the stigma of mental illness by travelling across Canada by bicycle.

Clara Hughes talks with young cyclists

Clara Hughes talks with young cyclists

Six-time Olympic cycling and speed-skating medalist Clara Hughes set out on Clara’s Big Bike Ride from Toronto on March 14 to visit every province and territory in Canada. She’ll be visiting towns throughout British Columbia for the next couple of weeks.

Her travels are expected to take 110 days and cover more than 7,400 miles as she is scheduled to visit 95 communities to talk about mental illness.

“It’s a pursuit to bring the mental health conversation to every single city and community across Canada,” Hughes says in a YouTube video (below). “My goal is to bring down the stigma attached to that illness and get the conversation going with young Canadians like it’s never been before.”

The campaign is backed by Canadian communications company BCE, aka Bell Canada. The company is raising awareness about mental illness through its Bell Let’s Talk initiative.

Meeting students at a school

Meeting students at a school


Countless cyclists have learned that travelling by bicycle is a good way to raise visibility for a cause. People on bicycle are easier to approach, and the effort that goes into the ride impresses bystanders.

Any endurance challenge for a cause in Canada is certainly reminiscent of the Terry Fox run. With one leg amputated, the cancer victim set off on a cross-Canadian run in 1980. He had to quit after 3,300 miles, and he died of cancer the following year. His effort, however, launched the Terry Fox Run annual charity event that has raised $600 million for cancer research.

With the backing of the Bell publicity department, Clara’s Big Bike Ride is getting lots of exposure across Canada. Just about every media outlet along her route has mentioned her arrival, and many covered her talks to school assemblies and other public gatherings.

Good luck on her endeavors and I hope she achieves her goals.

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