In 2017, when New York City attorney and avid cyclist Mac Dorris founded the Ride for Mental Health in New Paltz, New York, it was a way to find hope, healing, and purpose after the sudden and tragic loss of his son, Eric.
At this year’s event in June, 464 riders, along with sponsors, volunteers, and virtual participants from around the world, helped push the total amount raised to date for mental health services to over $1 million dollars.
The Ride for Mental Health delivered a check this year for $235,000—its largest so far—to McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and the nation’s No. 1-rated psychiatric hospital.
Donations were also made to the New Paltz Youth Program and The Maya Gold Foundation. In addition, the New Paltz Youth Program and the Kingston (NY) YMCA each received 15 youth-size bicycle helmets courtesy of event sponsor Bern Helmets.
“This event was inspired by Eric, and I know he would be happy knowing how we’re helping individuals and families who have been impacted by mental illness, as well as people here in the local community,” said Dorris.
“I’m so grateful to all the riders and volunteers who helped make this year’s Ride for Mental Health our best one yet, and I can’t wait to start planning for 2023.”
Eric Dorris, who struggled with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other disorders, died at 21 from an accidental overdose while an outpatient at McLean. For his father, the ride has helped to light a path forward out of profound grief.
That spirit of hope, community, and resilience has grown stronger in New Paltz each year, as more and more riders and volunteers gather to raise money for mental illness education, research, and treatment.
In five years, The Ride for Mental Health has emerged as the premier cycling fundraiser in the U.S. that exclusively benefits mental health.
Staged in New York’s picturesque Hudson Valley, the weekend event is like an annual homecoming for a growing community of kindred spirits, many of whom have inspiring stories and personal motivation for riding or volunteering.
In addition to 25-, 50-, and 100-mile cycling routes winding through pristine farmland and charming local townships, Dorris added a 14-mile “family fun ride” and the option for anyone, anywhere to join the ride virtually.
Participants receive a custom-designed Hincapie cycling jersey and all riders, volunteers, and sponsors are invited to enjoy a complimentary barbecue dinner and live music on Saturday evening of the event weekend.
“Mac and his team have created a wonderful event that has grown each year, even during a global pandemic,” said Scott L. Rauch, MD, McLean’s president and psychiatrist in chief.
“That he has now raised more than $1 million for McLean is both inspiring and humbling. Just as importantly, he has created a community dedicated to eliminating the stigma of mental illness through education and open conversation. We are deeply grateful to the Dorris family, and to all the riders and sponsors for their tremendous efforts.”
Corporate and community organizations, teams, and individuals can participate in The Ride for Mental Health in person or virtually, and customize their own fundraising pages. Sponsorships for 2023 are now available and volunteer inquiries are welcome.
Details are available on The Ride for Mental Health website, by emailing The Ride for Mental Health, and by following the ride on Instagram, Facebook, and Strava.
About the Ride
The Ride for Mental Health was founded by New York City attorney Mac Dorris, inspired by his son, Eric.
A bright and funny boy, Eric struggled with mental health issues as a young man. He was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder among other conditions, and tragically died of an accidental overdose at the age of 21.
Mac, an avid cyclist, created The Ride for Mental Health to honor his son’s life, and to shine a light of hope and caring for others. Eric’s memory lives on in the important work being funded by The Ride for Mental Health, and in the moments of connection and camaraderie that make the event so rewarding.
Support for McLean Hospital
Funds from The Ride for Mental Health fuel a range of programs across McLean Hospital’s multi-campus network.
These initiatives include expanding access to clinical care for young people, scholarships providing financial assistance for patients and their families, development of a state-of-the-art academic and residential center for child and adolescent programs, public education and community training, and McLean’s nationally recognized research and innovation efforts.
McLean maintains the largest neuroscience and psychiatric research program of any private psychiatric hospital in the U.S., exemplified by the Eric Dorris Memorial Research Fellowship. Since its inception, the fellowship has been awarded to five outstanding post-doctoral scientists.
With the help of funding from The Ride for Mental Health, McLean continues to improve the lives of people and families affected by psychiatric disorders by advancing our understanding of mental illness, leading to earlier and more effective interventions.
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