Biking Across Canada for Mental Health

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Stratas Foundation
(left to right) Ben Cowdery and Liam Hunt are biking from Newmarket, ON to Vancouver to raise funds for their organization, the Stratas Foundation, which focuses on mental health services. Photo by Megan Pounder/SaultOnline

You’ve heard of biking across a town or city to raise money for mental health. But what about taking that one (or a lot of) stride further and biking across the whole country?

Two men from Newmarket are doing just that.

Ben Cowdery and Liam Hunt, who have been friends since the fifth grade, are biking from Newmarket, ON to Vancouver to raise awareness and funds for mental health research through their organization, the Stratas Foundation.

SaultOnline caught up with them during their rest day in Sault Ste. Marie.

Cowdery took a similar journey to the East Coast four years ago, after graduating university, to visit Hunt at school and also raise money (totaling at $10,000) for the Canadian Mental Health Association. This sparked his decision to make the trip again, this time with Hunt.

Hunt said he decided to come on-board for this ride after hearing about Cowdery’s experiences from his previous one.

“He seemed like he had a great time during that trip that he did to see me so I thought ‘well, we might as well complete that cross-country tour,’ he said, “and now we’re going to complete it going west instead of east.”

Hunt said the men decided to raise money for mental health research because mental health is something every single person shares.

“It’s not something that’s exclusive to those with depression or PTSD or you name it,” he explained. “So it’s important that you find new ways to take care of our mental health and live good lives. I think that research is a way to do that.”

Hunt said embarking on this journey to raise money for mental health research is important to him to let people know they’re not alone in their personal struggles.

“There are other people out there that are feeling the same way as you, and they’re still finding ways to live meaningful lives and happy lives – they live well,” he said.

“I want to make sure that there’s hope for everybody.”

The two men said, so far, one of the best parts of this trip has been the reception people have given them, and the Sault was no different. The men were welcomed with open arms to camp for free at Velorution Bike and Ski Shop during their stay.

Cowdery and Hunt said they hope to hit their target of $25,000 (and destination of Vancouver) by late July. At the date of this publication, they’ve raised over $20,000.

The Stratas Foundation is a 100 per cent volunteer-run organization, meaning 100 per cent of the funds go towards mental health research, funding young students and scientists studying mental health in Canada.

“Without (research), we’re left a little bit more in the dark regarding how to treat things, how to find new ways to live good lives,” Hunt said.

For more information on the Stratas Foundation, to follow along on the journey or make a donation, visit their website here.

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