Wellness Ride hits the road

When a severe concussion sent Rick Assinger to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton a little over a year and a half ago the prognosis wasn’t clear. Doctors told him they’d have a better idea of what the long-lasting effects were after he’d recovered for two months.

Jim Watson

When a severe concussion sent Rick Assinger to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton a little over a year and a half ago the prognosis wasn’t clear.

Doctors told him they’d have a better idea of what the long-lasting effects were after he’d recovered for two months.

Assinger had fallen on the ice and hit his head. He was rushed to Edmonton when internal bleeding was found.

“I don’t remember any of this at all,” he said.

At the two-month mark he was recovering well, but last year was a tough slog to get back to his old self.

This past weekend, he was one of 24 people who took part in the Wellness Ride, riding 100 km from Red Deer to Delburne to Penhold.

The focus of the 50 or 100 km ride, sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association, was healthy living.

“When you think about mental illness and mental health. A lot of times people will think about the negative side of it and we really want to promote the wellness part of it,” said Assinger, who is on the board of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“And even if you have some kind of mental disability of some sort you can make the best of it by being in good shape and enjoying life. So that’s really the philosophy of this Wellness Ride.”

He said he remembers a ParticipACTION ad from the 1970s that used to say the average 60-year-old Swede is in better shape than the average 30-year-old Canadian. The ParticipACTION organization was well known in the 1970s and 1980s for promoting physical fitness and healthy living in Canada.

“I was hoping we could reverse that and say the average 60-year old Canadian is in as good a shape as the average 60-year-old Swede,” Assinger said.

“I think we’re getting there. There is a lot of interest in physical fitness. And this wellness ride is in part trying to capture that kind of thinking.”

In its first year, the Wellness Ride raised $7,200, after expenses, that will go to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Assinger said that amount will be able to be doubled through a provincial grant program that matches community donations, bringing the total to $14,400 for the association.

Jeremy Bouw, of Innisfail, did the 100 km route and he was also part of the organizing committee.

He said the comraderie during the ride was really good, with everyone in really good spirits throughout it. He said he enjoyed the bike ride because there is a better chance for appreciating the scenary when you’re not speeding by it in a car.

Jim Watson, of Red Deer, president of the Canadian Mental Health Association board, biked 50 km during the event.

“It’s a great fundraiser for Canadian Mental Health and it speaks to wellness, which is what we’re all about,” Watson said.

He said organizers had help from the Central Alberta Brain Injury Society, the Schizophrenia Society and the Buffalo Hotel staff. He said they hope to continue the event next year.


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