A DESIRE to raise awareness and funding for youth mental health support in the Wimmera will spur a group of riders to cycle from Swan Hill to Horsham.
Freemasons Cycling Club of Victoria members will raise money for headspace Horsham by riding more than 300 kilometres through the Wimmera and Mallee in September.
The ride follows a similar event last year for headspace, which saw riders cycle from Wodonga to Ballarat and raise more than $12,700.
This year’s event organiser Malcolm Mann has been promoting the ride across the Wimmera this month.
He said the group had cycled in events for other charities, but wanted to do something with a youth focus.
“We thought it was time to do something for ourselves. In talking about the idea, we found each of us had been touched by mental illness somewhere within our families or circles of friends,” he said.
“We wanted to do something for the younger demographic, and headspace became the charity of choice for us.
“Had headspace existed when our kids were growing up, we probably would have been clients.
“We’re a group of people trying to support an organisation that we believe does a really good job.”
Mr Mann said the group was not professional riders, and would fit in training for the event around work and other commitments.
“We do what we can in our own time and space,” he said.
“Our members are spread across north-west Victoria to Melbourne.
“At this stage we will be riding from Swan Hill to Sea Lake, then to Hopetoun. We will try to get to Rainbow, then back to Warracknabeal and finally to Horsham.
“There will be three days of about 70 kilometres, and then we will ride about 110 kilometres on the other day.”
Mr Mann said the group hoped this year’s event would raise more money than the first ride.
headspace Horsham youth engagement and community development co-ordinator Louise Barnett said the organisation was overwhelmed by the Freemasons’ eagerness to raise awareness of mental health issues in this way.
“We are grateful for the bike ride from Swan Hill to Horsham and the large awareness it brings,” she said.
“Any money raised will assist with delivering services to young people across the Wimmera.”
Mr Mann has spoken about the ride at an information night in Dimboola Masonic Lodge 144, where Worshipful Master Mick Haebich presented headspace Horsham manager Liz Rowe with a cheque for $110 to kickstart fundraising.
Mr Mann will speak at a similar event at the Lowan Freemasons Lodge in Nhill on Tuesday night.
A headspace Horsham representative will also speak on the night.
Mr Mann said anyone was welcome to attend.
The cycling event is from September 9 to 12.