Registration for the fourth annual Ride for Mental Health opened on January 6, 2020, and within days eager cyclists and supporters signed up to participate in this highly anticipated event. Originally scheduled for June 27 and 28 in New Paltz, New York, the 2020 Ride was off to a great start, and founder Mac Dorris had upped his goals, hoping to host 600 riders and raise more than $200,000 for mental health treatment and research at McLean.
Then a global pandemic upended lives around the world. Race registration slowed as attention turned elsewhere, and the Ride could clearly not happen as planned. Because of his keen understanding of mental illness, Dorris recognized that the crisis would only increase the need for mental health treatment and escalate the urgency for support. In response, Dorris pivoted quickly to reimagine the effort, asking participants to cycle Together … Apart.
Register for the Ride for Mental Health
Join in this global effort, Together ... Apart, May 22-September 7 to raise funds for mental health treatment and research at McLean.
“We couldn’t just cancel it,” said Dorris, an avid cyclist who launched the ride as a way to channel his deep grief at the loss of his son. “Now, more than ever, our support is critical. The isolation, depression, trauma, and loss of this pandemic will most certainly create an enormous surge in need over the coming months, even after the medical peak has subsided. Top psychiatric hospitals like McLean will be handling the fallout from this crisis for some time to come.”
Over the next three months, Dorris has asked cyclists to ride lengthy courses closer to home to help raise money for McLean, snapping photos of their rides and posting them on social media with the label #RideAwaytheStigma.
Beginning on May 22 and continuing into early September, cyclists will ride routes of their own choosing—logging miles and following the progress of their fellow cyclists via the popular Strava app—asking for philanthropic support through online personal fundraising efforts. To mimic the community feeling of the event despite the enforced separation, Dorris has established competitions throughout the summer and will award prizes for mileage and fundraising successes.
McLean’s chief development officer, Lori Etringer, MBA, has cycled the 50-mile route each year since the event’s inception in 2017. Last year she launched Team McLean, welcoming colleagues, family, and friends to ride with her. The team collectively raised more than $14,000.
This year, Team McLean is in full force again with 18 members and currently holds the top spot in team fundraising.
“I’m thrilled with the enthusiasm our team is showing,” said Etringer. “We welcome new team members even if you’re not a bike rider. You can raise funds virtually … or simply contribute to one of the participating team members.”
Dorris kicked off the Together … Apart ride over the Memorial Day weekend and cyclists did not hesitate to rise to the challenge. Hundreds of riders from across the United States and a few hailing from as far away as Sumatra and Slovenia logged their miles for other participants to see. Dorris awarded prizes for the weekend’s top fundraising effort, longest ride, and greatest elevation.
“While we will miss gathering as a big group, we’re enabling cyclists who live much farther afield to participate without the need to travel to New Paltz,” said Dorris. “It’s exciting, but we look forward to seeing everyone in person in 2021.”