George Berry smiles for a photo after riding his bicycle in the 12th annual Berry Architecture Community Wellness Ride in Red Deer Saturday. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Berry Architecture Wellness Ride raises money, awareness for mental health, brain injuries

Dozens of cyclists rode around central Alberta to raise money and awareness for those suffering from mental illness and brain injuries.

About 58 people participated in the 12th annual Berry Architecture Community Wellness Ride in Red Deer on Saturday.

“We had one year that was down around 12 people (participating), and now we’re getting this many. We always look forward to this,” said George Berry, owner of Berry Architecture.

For many, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health, said Berry.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want to admit they have mental health issues,” he said.

“Talking to some people on the ride today, I asked, ‘Why did you come out?’

“They would say, ‘Well, it helps with depression. It helps getting out there, getting some endorphins going in your body.’ Anything we can do to help the public, we’ll do it.”

Despite some dark clouds looming over the event, which featured 10, 25, 50 and 100 kilometre rides, the rain held off, and overall, it was a “super ride,” said Berry.

“There was a little bit of a headwind as we rode out to Delburne, but it wasn’t too bad. Everyone had fun. There was only one flat tire, as far as I know, and no injuries,” he said.

The event raised money for both the Canadian Mental Health Association-Central Alberta Region and the Central Alberta Brain Injury Society.

Melissa Brilz, co-chair of the ride, said the event is special because it benefits two charities.

“We all know that even in these difficult economic times, people still want to support charities, but they’ve had to pick and choose.

“With this event, they can support two local organizations – the money stays right in central Alberta,” said Brilz.

Every dollar raised at the event, which is put on by volunteers, goes toward charities.

“When I took over (as co-chair) three years ago, it was just called the Berry Architecture Wellness Ride. We added the word ‘community’ three years ago, and it really has become a community ride.

“It’s people from all walks of life, all ages, all abilities. Our numbers keep getting higher and higher, and the fact that people come back year after year with their friends is amazing. We now have families with two generations of riders and stuff like that,” said Brilz.

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