The team organising the 2021 Black Dog Ride have had to rapidly adapt their plans to ride to the red centre, changing their planned route to ensure the ride is COVID safe for all participants and the communities they are visiting.
On Saturday August 7, more than 100 riders will still depart from Griffith however instead of working their way to Alice Springs where they would have meet up with the other state contingents, they will now travel intrastate through rural communities including Wentworth, Broken Hill, Cobar, Tamworth and Cowra to talk about mental illnesses and suicide and encourage help seeking behaviors.
At the moment however it is predicted that about a third of the registered riders won't be able to participate as they are locked down in Greater Sydney.
State co-ordinator, Graham 'Bear' Falconer said that fostering these conversations was of critical importance to the ride and what all riders set out to do.
"Beginning in 2009, as a ride to raise awareness of depression, it has now evolved into a national health promotion charity involving thousands of Australians with lived experience of mental illness and suicidal ideation who inspire the nation with their passion for suicide prevention," Mr Falconer said.
"What we want to do is start conversations, so people know there is help out there."
In the decade since its inception, more than $2.5 million dollars have been raised for mental health and suicide prevention programs nationwide, including Lifeline Australia's Crisis Support Chat service, Men's Sheds, Samaritans Crisis Support Service, headspace clinics and more.
"Black Dog Ride's community health projects are also the largest of their kind in Australia that are organised, conducted and involve participants with lived experience," Mr Falconer said.
At the 2019 event, the Griffith team raised around $20,000 for suicide prevention, making them the top fundraising team in NSW.
"Griffith is one of the best places we have ever started, the whole community is behind us," Mr Falconer said.
On August 12, the NSW Black Dog Riders will finish their journey in Cowra, however this again could change as the COVID outbreak in Greater Sydney continues.
"All funds raised from this years ride will go directly to grassroots community mental heal projects throughout Australia," Mr Falconer said.
For more information, to get involved or make a donation who you can to www.blackdogride.org.au
If you or someone you know needs help contact;
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
- Griffith Suicide Prevention and Suicide Support Group on 1300 133 911
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