The 8th Annual Ride Don’t Hide planned for this month has been cancelled. Presented by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Vernon & District Branch, the cycling event aims to reduce mental health stigma and raise funds for local programs.

“The health and well-being of our community has always been and will continue to be of utmost importance to us at CMHA,” said Julia Payson, CMHA Vernon Executive Director. “We want to avoid any unnecessary risks during the global pandemic we are experiencing.”

In place of the Ride event, CMHA Vernon has launched a fundraising initiative, ‘In This Together – COVID-19 Community Crisis Response’ to meet the increased demand for Crisis Line services and its Nutrition program.

“More than ever, our programs and services are desperately needed in the community,” said Payson. “We know many are struggling emotionally and financially, but for those who are able to help, we are most grateful.”

CMHA has transitioned most of its programming to online and phone-based services and added new programs including Phone Buddy to meet the need for social and emotional support for isolated community members. Staff and volunteers have also prepared, packaged and delivered more than 2,000 freezer-ready meals since mid-March and began food hamper delivery service last month. The Crisis Line has received a record amount of calls with 90% of the increased calls being related to COVID-19 concerns.

To date, more than $40,000 has been raised for ‘In This Together’ including a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan and $10,000 from the United Way of South Okanagan Similkameen.

Interior Savings Credit Union and TD Canada Trust contributed generous donations to CMHA’s COVID relief initiatives, in addition to donations from individual community members.

“We are incredibly thankful for the support we have received. We hope to reach our $60,000 goal by the end of July to meet the need that would have been fulfilled with our Ride Don’t Hide event,” said Payson. “Although we are all living in times of uncertainty about what the coming weeks and months will bring, what we do know is that we are strong and connected.”

Before the pandemic, the Ride Don’t Hide event planning was off to a great start, raising more than $14,000 towards a $60,000 goal to support youth, the Crisis Line and critical mental health services.

Over the years the cycling event has grown in popularity as communities in the North Okanagan rise up to end mental health stigma, while raising funds for youth mental health programs and critical services.

“We are the ones who have had the top fundraising ride team in Canada for the past three years,” said Payson. “The spirit of the North Okanagan community is resilient and vital and we will get through this together.”

CMHA would like to thank the early supporters of the event who stepped up before the pandemic with donations and sponsorships. Bannister Automotive’s lead gift of $10,000, brings their support to $42,000 over the past four years. Dr. Loland and Taves Dental Clinic, Sterling Centre Remedy’sRx and Watkin Motors were also early supporters to this year’s Ride event. Generous support also included Tim Hortons as Breakfast Sponsor, SUBWAY as Lunch Sponsor and Ladies World as Warm Up Sponsor. Media sponsors included Beach Radio, Castanet and Vernon Morning Star.

For more information on how CMHA Vernon & District is supporting the mental health of the community during this time visit

To donate to the ‘In This Together – COVID Response Campaign’, visit

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