TORONTO, ON - A special cycling trek from Vancouver to St. John's begins on May 20th, when 60-year-old Mel Thompson dips his wheels in the Pacific Ocean and starts to pedal eastward. During his 100 day journey across Canada, Thompson hopes The Ride for Mental Health will raise awareness about mental illness and get people talking about the issues surrounding it.

Although mental illness affects one in five Canadians at some point in their lives, there is still a social stigma attached to mental illness that keeps many people from seeking the help they need. It is the disease that no one likes to talk about, but it has a devastating impact on people who suffer from it, their families and society in general. The Ride for Mental Health aims to bring the issues of mental illness out in the open, get people to share their own experiences with it, and debunk the myths and misconceptions of mental illness.

Mel Thompson understands first-hand the struggles of dealing with mental illness. His ride is inspired by his daughter Lindsay, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder as a teenager. "No one is immune from mental illness and when it hits you, or someone you love, you are never prepared," says Thompson. "But there is treatment and recovery and that is how our family stays optimistic. Lindsay hopes to one day be able to return to school and work and we hope these dreams will come true."

In addition to raising awareness, The Ride for Mental Health aims to raise $250,000 to support mental health programs across Canada. People who wish to donate can visit the website at , www.therideformentalhealth.org and select the mental health charity or charities they would like to support.

Thompson, a vice president for Xerox Canada, is getting support for his 100 day trek from several corners, including corporate sponsors, current and retired Xerox employees, the Canadian Mental Health Association and most importantly, his family. Thompson's wife Carol is driving the support vehicle and his daughter Lindsay will be riding sections of the route whenever possible.

"Our hope is that we can help people gain a higher level of understanding and acceptance of mental illness," says Carol Thompson. "It's time to change, so open the doors; let's take mental illness out of the shadows and into the light."

The Ride for Mental Health will finish in St. John's, Newfoundland where Thompson will dip his bike wheels in the Atlantic Ocean. During his journey across Canada, Thompson will also make stops in several cities for a series of events designed raise awareness of mental health issues.

These scheduled stops are:
Vancouver (ride kick off event) - Tuesday, May 19th
Calgary - Tuesday, June 2nd
Winnipeg - Monday, June 22nd
Thunder Bay - Wednesday, July 1st
Toronto - Friday, July 17th
Toronto - Wednesday July 22nd
Ottawa -Monday July 27th
Montreal - Thursday July 30th
Saint John, N.B. - Wednesday A ugust 12th
Halifax - Thursday August 20th
St. John's, Nfld. (ride finish) - Saturday, August 29th

About Mel Thompson:
60 year old Mel Thompson is a fitness enthusiast and business executive who has worked at Xerox Canada for 29 years. Thompson is on a sabbatical from work to train for and complete The Ride for Mental Health . He and his wife Carol have four children, including his eldest daughter Lindsay, who inspired his cross-country journey. Thompson is an alumnus of York University, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario.

For more information on The Ride for Mental Health please visit www.therideformentalhealth.org
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Media Contacts:
Ben Thompson, Phone: (416) 831-0749 ben.thompson@ryerson.ca