Rayden Seela is spending his summer training for a charity bike ride from Winnipeg back home to Thompson.
The 14-year-old is aiming to complete this 762-kilometre trek in five days, August 18−22, and will donate all the money he raises to the HOPE North Suicide Prevention Committee.
The issue of mental health hits very close to home for Seela, whose sister Cheyenne Renee died by suicide in 2017.
“She was a very upbeat person. She always liked to laugh with her family and friends,” he said. “But she had a drinking problem, and drugs, and she suffered from postpartum depression from having a child, which she hid from her family.”
After talking with family members and a former elementary school teacher, Seela decided that a marathon bike ride was one of the best ways he could honour his sister’s memory and raise awareness for others suffering from similar issues.
“I like biking. It’s one of my favourite things to do,” he said. “So I thought about what fundraising I should do, and then my dad said, ‘You should do something close to home like suicide prevention and mental illness.’”
The Thompson teen sought out HOPE North specifically because of the outreach they do in Northern Manitoba, including remote communities.
In preparation for this provincewide trek, Seela’s been busy riding around the city, since he needs to travel at least 150 kilometres a day in order to reach MacLean Park by Aug. 22.
“My best [ride] recently was 112 kilometres. That was on a good day,” he said. “On average I do at least 30 to 50 kilometres.”
While Seela is confident he can complete this journey, and will be escorted by his dad in camper van the whole way, he is a little bit nervous now that the campaign has gone public.
“I feel like a lot of people are already looking at me and there’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “But I think I’ll have a lot of fun.”
To raise money, Seela set up a Go Fund Me page which had raised over $1,400 of a $7,500 goal by July 10.
Seela also hopes this bike ride will encourage others to open up about their own struggles with mental health issues like postpartum depression.
“My sister really didn’t talk about her problems and … I feel like there’s a stigmatism to having those kinds of problems and I think it’s OK to talk about it.”