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Are you ready to ride or volunteer for a great cause—and in a beautiful setting?
This year, The Ride for Mental Health in New Paltz, New York, will take place on June 23 and June 24. Created by Mac Dorris, who lost his son to mental illness, The Ride for Mental Health is one of the first bicycle rides in the country to specifically benefit mental health.
The proceeds raised will be donated to McLean Hospital for the research and treatment of mental illness, including anxiety, borderline personality disorder (BPD), depression, eating disorders, and substance use disorders. The Ride for Mental Health is also focused on helping, through education and awareness, to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Last year’s event raised more than $100,000, which supported BPD clinician training and research, a scholarship for McLean’s new residential program for adolescent boys with BPD, and the inaugural summit of the hospital’s newly launched Institute for Technology in Psychiatry (ITP).
Zach Orlov, who lives with bipolar disorder and was the second-leading fundraiser for last year’s event, is excited about being able to contribute toward the development of technologies that help patients, particularly apps that are being developed at McLean to support patients following treatment. “Developing apps that help people with mental illness maintain stability after treatment is particularly important, as one of the biggest hurdles they face is recidivism,” explained Orlov. “Being able to help finance the development of such technologies at McLean is very meaningful for me.”
Orlov also mentioned many other motivations for participating in last year’s event and for committing to participate again this year. Once an aspiring Olympic athlete, he values the camaraderie among the riders, how training for and participating in such a physical challenge can build resilience, and the event’s mission to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
“I think the ride provides a wonderful opportunity to start a discussion about mental health,” said Orlov. “For me, it’s easy to talk about it, but it’s difficult for others to discuss these things. If we can have a more inclusive discussion about mental health, more people will get help.”
The event features many different routes and ride lengths—14, 25, 50, 75, and 100 miles—and the option of riding on one day or both days. Each route features beautiful scenery, multiple rest stops, and comprehensive rider support. Learn more about the route options.
If you are not a cyclist, there are still plenty of other ways that you can contribute to the cause. Volunteers are needed for a wide variety of event logistics, including registration, rest stops, marking ride routes, and distributing food and water. The ride organizers have guaranteed that they will find something for you to do if you are willing to help. They are also looking for people with specialized skills, such as bike mechanics and people with first aid certification. Please email Angela Dorris for more information about volunteering.
For those who do not ride or cannot make it to New Paltz this year, there is a new way to raise funds—become a virtual rider. There is no fee to register as a virtual rider, and those who reach the $1,000 fundraising goal will receive a swag bag.