Ride for mental health support biggest yet

Participants riding west.

Michael R Williams

In support of outback mental health, philanthropists will ride by push bike from Brisbane to Longreach this time increasing the distance to include an overnight stay in Charleville.

RideWest is a biennial bike ride that has raised over $1,400,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s Wellbeing Out West Program over its 12-year-lifespan.

Wellbeing Out West is a program that provides free one on one mental health counselling, education, and support for rural Queensland and is entirely funded by RideWest. Participant Kate Warby said the event was about providing mental health care to people in the bush that is more readily available in the cities.

There are 37 riders this year who and will ride from Brisbane next year on April 29.

“We’re riding on 150, 170kms a day,” she said.

“Some days we’re doing up to 220 kms.”

The RideWest fundraiser was conceived in when, originator Les Hancock was driving and heard on the radio that a man was riding his bike from Melbourne to Cairns for charity.

As a bike rider, Mr Hancock was inspired; the very next story was about the suicide rates in outback Queensland – 30-50 per cent higher than that of the city.

Ms Warby said she got involved in the event through her love of cycling.

“I do a lot of riding, and I had heard about this event through my husband who works for NRMA [double check] who are one of the major sponsors,” she said.

“I got on board because I love a challenge, and I have a lot of family who live in Western Queensland.

“I have a lot of understanding of the resilience they have, but they need support, and they might not go looking for it if it’s not already there.”

In the lead up, Ms Warby said she would need to train hard to prepare for the tribulation.

“But what I loved about it [RideWest in previous years] was that it wasn’t a race,” she said.

“You’re doing it as a team, together, and while we’re doing for different reasons, we’re all doing it for the same result.

“We all have a contact that we care about helping, and if we can do that [help improve mental health in the outback], then that’s we want to be able to achieve.”

Ms Warby held a “Sunset Fundraising Soiree” in Eumindi, recently, with an attendance of over 100 people.

During that event she was able to raise $9500 from local businesses through a raffle with all proceeds going to the Wellbeing Out West program.

Ms Warby said community engagement with riders in the towns they pass has grown exponentially over the years.

“The country people can’t believe you get on a push bike and come to longreach,” she said.

“Its very hospitable, people are very grateful for what we do, they give us scones and a feed.

“You can’t underestimate the country hospitality.”

If you would like to support Ms Warby and RideWest visit ride-west.raisely.com/kate-warby