ECHUCA’S first ever Black Dog Ride raised $1400 for depression and suicide awareness.
Fifty riders set off from Bunnings and travelled through Elmore, Stanhope, Rushworth, Murchison, Violet Town and finished in Shepparton.
The Black Dog Ride began when Steve Andrews found himself at the funeral of a close friend.
A life that was cut short by a silent struggle with depression.
Tragically, Steve’s mother had also taken her own life years earlier.
Every year in Australia 1,000,000 adults and 100,000 young people live with depression, 50 per cent will not seek treatment and nearly 3000 will take their own lives.
Standing at the friend’s wake, Steve felt the need to raise community awareness of depression and to create a national conversation so that people living with mental illness were able to talk about it and seek support.
In 2009, Steve embarked on a solo month-long motorbike journey around Australia, raising $34,000 for the Suicide Call Back Service and engaging thousands of Australians with his message of awareness.
Steve took with him a soft black dog toy representing the black dog of depression, a term Winston Churchill famously coined.
Steve called this dog Winston and his ride Black Dog Ride.
Since the inaugural ride, Steve has built it into a national suicide prevention charity which has coordinated rides across the country to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention.
Thousands of people have joined Steve on the road, and have raised more than $2 million for mental health services.
Black Dog Ride coordinator for north central Victoria Diana Munro said she was pleased with the success of Echuca’s first ride and hoped to get more people for the next one.
“Most people have been affected or know someone affected by depression or suicide. The majority of our riders have personal experience with it,” she said.
“The riders pay a registration fee, we do raffles, sell merchandise, hold sausage sizzles and receive donations from the public and it all goes towards depression and suicide prevention.
“We’re keen to make the next one even bigger so we encourage people to get involved.”
For more information, visit blackdogride.com.au, visit the Facebook page or contact Diana on 0467 595 922.
■ Anyone dealing with tough times in their life can call LifeLine on 131 114 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636 and seek help.