Black Dog Ride!
On this day seven years ago, the 26th July 2009, Black Dog Ride began. At the foreshore in Busselton WA a group of friends and family gathered with a few supporters to wave me off on my solo mission.
The mission was simple. Having lost my Mum and a very dear friend to suicide, I was determined to ride around Australia to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention. To start conversations.
During that 26 day epic adventure a number of riders joined me for sections of the 15,000km journey. I was grateful for their camaraderie, their company and their support. Most of them had a personal story to tell about how depression or suicide had impacted their life. It was like my Black Dog Ride had given them "permission" to share their story, many for the first time. It was a humbling and enlightening experience. By the time I arrived home in Busselton I knew that although the inaugural Black Dog Ride had finished, my awareness raising journey had only just begun.
I had a sense that there were many people out there who were living with depression in silence but at the time I had no idea of the enormity of the problem. In 2010 I created the first Black Dog Ride 1 Dayer and the Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre. These concepts struck a chord with motorcycle riders all over the country. The concept was basic - we get on our bikes, go for a ride, have some fun and all the time we're delivering the very important message that it's ok to talk about depression and suicide, and it's ok to reach out for help if you're struggling. In the following years more and more riders and supporters participated in Black Dog Rides and became ambassadors for our cause. To be honest, at times the level of support has been quite overwhelming.
I feel blessed that along this journey I have been joined by some amazing people. Thousands of riders, hundreds of volunteers including our wonderful State Coordinators and Ride Coordinators, and the small hard working team at BDR HQ. There are far too many for me to name but I would like to single out one person for special recognition. Back in 2011 Fiona Duffield responded to my shout out for help with engaging and growing the BDR community via social media. Fiona's expertise, passion and dedication to our cause has gone well beyond looking after the Facebook page and has contributed enormously to the success of our organisation.
I have also been fortunate to have a wonderfully supportive wife and family along with a few close mates who have been there for me since day one.
My sincere and heartfelt thanks go out to you all for being part the life changing and lifesaving work we do as members of the Black Dog Ride family.