Friday, 14 June 2013 09:11

Couple on cross-Canada bike ride against silent killer

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Kerry and Ginny Dennehy (at right) had an opportunity to meet local residents on Swift Current's Market Square during the Enough is Enough community rally on June 4. The couple is cycling 8,000 kilometres across Canada to raise awareness and funds for mental health. Kerry and Ginny Dennehy (at right) had an opportunity to meet local residents on Swift Current's Market Square during the Enough is Enough community rally on June 4. The couple is cycling 8,000 kilometres across Canada to raise awareness and funds for mental health. Matthew Liebenberg/Prairie Post

Depression is the second leading cause of death for teens in Canada, but a bike ride across Canada is making a call for action against this silent killer.

 

Ginny and Kerry Dennehy, whose 17-year-old son took his own life while struggling with depression, stopped at Swift Current’s Market Square on June 4 for a community rally in support of their Enough is Enough bike tour.

We've had mental illness in the closet for so long and enough is enough,” Kerry said. “It's time for society to change its attitude and it's time for those people who are sufferers to come forward and get the help that they need.”

Their trip of 8,000 kilometres started on May 12 in their home town of Whistler, B.C. The couple is hosting events in communities along their route to raise funds and awareness for mental health.

Their goal is to reach Cape Spear near St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Aug. 11. They will conclude their trip with a final rally in Whistler on Aug. 29.

“Ginny and I are splitting the time between the handle bars,” he said about their daily cycling routine. “If we have a 100 kilometre ride, which is about our average every day, Ginny would do 50 and I'll do 50. We are in our sixties, so we're not trying to burn ourselves out.”

They started their mission to create a better understanding of mental health diseases shortly after their son Kelty ended his life on March 2, 2001.

They founded the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation a few months later and have raised over $5 million. Their goal is $5 million with this trip and they have already raised over $600,000.

Ginny spoke about her son's battle with depression during the community rally in Swift Current and their decision to start the foundation.

“When I tell you the story of our family you might be able to relate it to your own family and understand how some of these things can happen to you and you just don't know what you're going to do,” she said.

The couple experienced another tragedy in 2009 when their daughter Riley died from a heart attack while studying yoga in Thailand. It was caused by strong pain medication that was prescribed for her separated shoulder.

“You wonder how you could ever go on when you lose one child, but when you lose two children you just don't think you can make it,” Ginny said. “Kerry and I both decided that no matter what, we have to go on and we have to make a difference for those people who suffer from mental health. Riley didn't suffer from mental health issues, but what she did suffer from was a family member who went through mental health issues.”

She has recently written a book about her family and the launch of the foundation. All the royalties from book sales will be donated to the Enough is Enough campaign.

“I believe in this world that you might not have a choice of what happens to you in your life, but you do have a choice in how you're going to deal with it,” she said. “I hope by sharing my story through this book that it will help others to know that no matter what happens in your life that you can go on.”

They decided to do a bike trip across Canada as a means to start a national campaign. Until now their efforts to raise awareness and funds for mental health have largely taken place in British Columbia.

Their big dream is to establish a Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre in every province. The foundation has already funded the establishment to two such facilities in Vancouver and they have sufficient resources for a third one.

Kerry emphasized it will take a collective effort to change society’s attitudes about depression and mental health issues.

“It's a big wheel,” he said. “We all have to put our shoulder to the wheel and turn it bit by bit, but there is hope.”

For more information about the Enough is Enough campaign, go to the foundation’s website at www.thekeltyfoundation.org

 
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Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer

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