Cape Reinga in sights of fundraiser cy­clists

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By SUE FEA

Out­ra­geous For­tune ac­tor Aidee Walker and a grow­ing band of fol­low­ers headed out of Queen­stown bound for the West Coast on Sun­day on the Ride Out of the Blue char­ity bike ride from Bluff to Cape Reinga. Walker is one of a core group of eight cy­clists who set out from Bluff on Satur­day morn­ing to ride the length of the coun­try in a bid to raise aware­ness of de­pres­sion and sui­cide. Walker, who played Draska in the tele­vi­sion se­ries, was in­spired by last year’s in­au­gu­ral Ride Out of the Blue and de­ter­mined to help re­peat the suc­cess. She said the group of mainly women, in­cluded grand­moth­ers, moth­ers, ac­tors and wait­resses; peo­ple from all walks of life. Some had per­sonal sto­ries they hoped to share along the way to ini­ti­ate con­ver­sa­tion in com­mu­ni­ties about men­tal health and re­duce stigma sur­round­ing it. ‘‘New Zealand has a dev­as­tat­ing sui­cide rate with 1.5 peo­ple tak­ing their lives ev­ery day,’’ Walker said. The rates were es­pe­cially high among youth and Maori and Pa­cific Is­land males, she said. ‘‘In or­der to change these hor­ri­fy­ing sta­tis­tics and reach the most at-risk de­mo­graphic we will also hold talks at schools to ed­u­cate young New Zealan­ders about men­tal well­be­ing.’’ Funds raised will go to­wards a Mind­ful­ness in Schools ini­tia­tive, a pre­ven­ta­tive ap­proach giv­ing youth the skills to deal with their emo­tions be­fore they be­came a prob­lem. Other cy­clists are join­ing the group on its 21-day, 2300km ride. Queen­stown woman Rachel Kennedy is com­plet­ing the full ride while hus­band Jeff Kennedy cy­cled from Bluff to Wanaka. Twin Rivers Or­ganic Lamb di­rec­tor Hugh Rouse, of Queen­stown, was so in­spired by the group’s vi­sion at the week­end that he de­cided to hop on his bike and join the trip also. Twin Rivers sup­plied an or­ganic spit roast lamb meal for the cy­clists in Queen­stown on Satur­day night. Fel­low di­rec­tor Ben McGill said they had a friend in the group and re­ally wanted to sup­port the cause. Ride out of the Blue ex­pects to reach Pic­ton on Oc­to­ber 21. The big­gest day will be a 157km slog from West­port to St Ar­naud. They plan to be at Cape Reinga by Novem­ber 2.

Photo: BEN MCGILL

Peak per­form­ers: At the sum­mit on Sun­day – Ride Out of the Blue bik­ers af­ter con­quer­ing the Crown Range.

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