Ginny and Kerry Dennehy of Whistler, B.C. of the Enough is Enough Bike Tour stopped in Wolfville recently. Mayor Jeff Cantwell greeted the couple.
Wendy Elliott, Kingscountynews.ca
By Wendy Elliott
“No one will understand the depression in my mind,” Kelty Dennehy wrote before he committed suicide at the age of 17.
Twelve years, later his anguish still motivates his parents.
Ginny and Kerry Dennehy were in Wolfville on July 28, en route across the country, where they were greeted by Mayor Jeff Cantwell. Enough is Enough, their bike ride from Whistler, B.C., to Cape Spear, Newfoundland, is all about raising awareness and funding resources to reduce depression and suicide in young people.
The couple founded the Kelty Foundation, which has already raised over $5 million. The 60- and 64-year-old Dennehys are aiming to raise another $2 million during their ride. They’ve collected about $700,000 thus far.
The Dennehys want to create a Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre in every province and territory in Canada. They’ve helped fund three facilities in Vancouver hospitals.
The Whistler-based duo spend time at each stop talking about mental illness and Ginny’s new book, Choosing Hope: A Mother’s Story of Love, Loss and Survival.
“We, as a society, have to start to treat this disease as we treat cancer, heart disease and any other disease,” said Ginny.
One 12-year-old girl, who met the Dennehys in Ontario, told Ginny she wished she had cancer instead of a mental illness.
“She was so brave. She talked about it. I told her, ‘you are a leader.’ What I love across Canada are the stories we share,” Ginny said.
“That (kind of stigma) triggers more discussions, which is why we come onto Main Street.”
Kerry added that greater awareness will prompt school counsellors and friends to get help for someone suffering.
They say that it is important for parents to react to any change in their child’s behaviour and not to fear asking tough questions.
When your child has intense anxiety, Kerry remembered, “you go as your kids go. They get three minutes with a GP and a prescription for Paxil, then they wait six or seven weeks to see a psychiatrist.”
Ginny says parents can’t be ashamed. She wants to see buildings devoted to young sufferers like that or Tele-psychiatry available so that youth can access help from a warm body.
About the ride
A friend donated a recreational vehicle for the Dennehys to use during their cross-Canada journey. It’s been coast to coast before; Dr. Riley Senft ran across the country in 2011 to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer. He is the son of Rod Senft, a prostate cancer sufferer.
Senft ran up to 70 kilometres a day for a total of 6,621 kms and created a charity called Step into Action. He raised over $600,000 for the Vancouver Prostate Centre.
Kerry Dennehy said he appreciated the contribution of the motor home. The Dennehy’s have sponsorship from Norco in the form of two bikes and other companies.
Several of the firms who contributed asked the Dennehys to come back and talk to their employees.
Speaking of their years of fund raising, Kerry chuckled, “We joined the black tie circuit.” In the process, 36 members of the Kelty Circle were persuaded to donate $10,000 each.
“There are so many (good) causes,” said Ginny. “It’s tough. Let’ s not kid ourselves.”
Two of the Dennehy’s nephews are along on the ride with them. The couple takes turns riding and say they are enjoying seeing the nation in slow motion.
“This is a great way to see the country,” Kerry says. “Good physical fitness equals good mental health.”
Ginny chuckles, ‘we’re probably the only people riding across Canada and we don’t lose weight.”
Follow the Enough is Enough Ride
Did you know?
The Canadian Mental Health Association says the mortality rate due to suicide is four times higher among men than the rate among women.
Many mental health problems emerge in childhood or adolescence, according to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, and half of all people who suffer from depression, for instance, are first affected before their 20th birthday.
Last year, the Mental Health Commission of Canada issued its first national strategy to improve mental health in this country and pointed out that mental health issues costs the economy over $50 billion a year in lost productivity and health costs.
Mental health services for children between the ages of 16 and 19 are a patchwork of services that are inconsistent across the country, the commission said.