A common theme this year has been improvisation and that is exactly what our team did – improvise and pivot our annual event Ride Don’t Hide into the virtual wellness campaign, Energize Don’t Hide 2020 Challenge (EDH 2020).
This summer we encouraged Canadians to accomplish 20 minutes of daily exercise to boost physical and mental health while gearing towards their collective and individual fundraising goals.
We truly did not know what to expect and were delighted with the outcome of over 45 teams participating in their fitness journeys with a total of $90,753 raised!
No Stratus Without Us
One team in particular was not only EDH 2020’s top fundraising team with over 38 participants and 16 volunteers, but they went above and beyond by having their own ride in the company of family, friends, co-workers and supporters.
Stratus Director of Operations, Greg Epp, was this year’s team captain and one of many to keep the ride alive in 2020.
“Once the event was cancelled due to COVID-19, we had already gained a lot of interest from our team so we decided we would continue to raise money and do our own group ride in September.”
Located here in Calgary, Stratus is an electrical and instrumentation service contractor. They have been a CMHA Calgary supporter for the past three years and have volunteered their time with us on many occasions including last year’s 2019 Ride Don’t Hide event.
Besides just participating in the ride, Stratus wanted to create their own rendition of Ride Don’t Hide.
“We decided to make it more of an event with a 100km/60km optional ride and a BBQ to follow, we also increased our goal to $17,000 which at the time we thought was an aggressive goal…[we] raised over an incredible $28,000.”
More Than Just Participation
A member of Team Stratus Bronagh Doherty, Cost Accountant at Stratus, said participating in the ride meant a lot to her because mental health resides close to home.
“Mental health issues have unfortunately prevailed in our family for generations. My son has been diagnosed with several mental health issues in the last few years, so this cycle meant a lot to me personally.”
In the midst of the cheers from her supporters, Doherty was able to cross the finish the ride with a loved one.
“My son met me on his bike to see me over the finish line […] I felt proud [I] was able to complete the cycle.”
Chris Zook, Project Manager at Stratus, said he agreed to the ride after an out-of-office work discussion.
“I honestly committed to [the ride] because of the team participation with my co-workers.”
Since becoming a full-time employee at the Stratus office, Zook wanted to keep and maintain his psyche with regular exercise.
“This year I have now logged 845 kilometres of riding as a result which has been great for not only my physical health but my mental health as well. I sleep better, feel better and am able to focus better at work.”
Zook’s wife Sarah was able to be there at the event to cheer and support him on his ride.
“It is always great to have your closest friend proud of you for bettering yourself.”
Along with Doherty and Zook, over half of Stratus’ team were able to accomplish their fitness and fundraising goals. The Top Fundraisers for EDH 2020 Scott Southward and Jeff Block, also on Team Stratus, raised a combined $12,500.
Despite the major fundraising success, Epp is elated about the opportunity his team will have about contributing to mental health education.
“I think very highly of the whole CMHA Calgary team and have no doubt the funds raised not just by our team but everyone that participated will be used effectively for those facing some challenges in mental health.”
Focusing On Mental Health Practices at Stratus
Since adopting CMHA Calgary as their sponsored charity for the past couple of years, Stratus has made it a priority to incorporate mental health awareness into their workplace culture.
“One key way we have done this is having a CMHA Calgary Educator come in to present to our team, who does an incredible job, and of course promoting mental health through our ride throughout the summer,” Epp said.
Although they want to expand mental health further as one of their core community pillars, Epp says they are taking necessary steps in the right direction that aren’t as traditional in his line of work.
“With Stratus being in the construction industry, mostly men have been raised to ‘suck it up’ and not talk about feelings; we find it very important to break that stigma and encourage people to talk.”
Importance of Physical Health
With COVID-19 taking the wind out the sails of sports players all over the world, including Epp, he decided to partake in an activity that can be accomplished all on his own.
“I really focused on biking [in the spring] and started to absolutely love it. Not only did I find it really great physically but it was incredible for my mental fitness as well, definitely my COVID-19 silver lining.”
As a leader in and out of the office, Epp is encouraging others to find a physical activity that is able to get you on your feet and hopefully lift your spirits when times are low.
“…Take on an activity that can really clear your mind [and] release the stresses in life whether it be biking, running, rowing, CrossFit, swimming, etc., who knows you might actually enjoy it!”
Our team is already in the planning stages of what our 2021 Ride Don’t Hide/Energize Don’t Hide campaign will look like so please stay tuned for more details or sign-up for our newsletter.
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