Gearing up: Queenstown Ride out of the Blue riders Rachel Kennedy (left) and Kim Percival
A Queenstown woman whose partner committed suicide hopes to save lives by raising awareness on a nationwide cycling fundraiser.
Kim Percival – seeking financial support for the length-of-New Zealand ride – says five years ago her then-fiance took his life after a long battle with depression.
Andrew Smith, 25, who’d just set up a local screenprinting business, was one of three Queenstown men who did so in 2007 in the space of six weeks.
“I was absolutely totally in love with him, he was amazing,” Percival says.
Equipment, donations please
Queenstowner Kim Percival and her teammates are appealing for help to gear up for their cycling fundraiser.
The Ride out of the Blue riders hope to raise $46,580 to support their 21-day cycle from Bluff to Cape Reinga.
Overall they’re looking for $100,000, with the $53,420 balance to go to the Mental Health Foundation.
Percival says the immediate need is for bikes and cycling gear.
“All of us are on insufficient bikes – just mountain bikes or bikes that aren’t good enough.”
Avanti Bikes has offered the riders six road bikes at cost for $2000 each. They’re also after cycling gear and equipment worth totaling $3780 for the group. The rest is needed for food, accommodation and support vehicles.
“We need proper road bikes to be able to start training properly, to get our bodies used to riding that certain bike,” Percival says.
Businesses offering support would get their name on the riders’ support vehicles and exposure in a documentary being shot.
The ride starts in Bluff on October 13 and passes through Queenstown two days later. A fundraising comedy gala is in Auckland when the riders arrive.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to help.
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
The Lowdown: Free text 5626
Jigsaw Central Lakes: 441 0009
Queenstown Salvation Army: 442 5103
Wakatipu Community Mental Health: 441 0010
Statements of hopelessness
Rage, anger, seeking revenge
Increasing alcohol or drug use
Withdrawing from friends, family or society
Anxiety, agitation, sleep problems
Talk of suicide, death
“I knew that he had depression but obviously it’s still a shock. You don’t imagine anyone’s capable of doing that.”
Percival, 29, says the Ride out of the Blue cycle challenge this October/November will be part of the healing process for her.
“I have a driving force and a heartfelt reason to do it. It was obviously a horrible thing to go through but to be able to do something positive, to raise money and raise awareness, is really important for me.”
Percival admits the 21-day ride will be physically taxing considering her lack of road biking experience.
“But I can physically push myself to the limit knowing that people who suffer from depression push themselves every day to fight it.”
Percival is teaming up with fellow local Rachel Kennedy, 34, and four North Island riders.
All the riders have connections to the cause – in Kennedy’s case, she suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of her third child.
Last year’s inaugural event raised $30,000 for the Mental Health Foundation.
This year’s target is $50,000-plus.
Funds will go to the Mindfulness in Schools programme aimed at targeting the problem of depression early.
“I think this programme will definitely save lives,” Percival says.
“It’s going to help young people know how to deal with those emotions and feelings, and where to go if they are feeling that bad.
“Otherwise, you become an adult and you don’t know how to deal with those feelings. And because it’s such a stigma, you don’t talk to people about it, so you don’t reach out.
“If you have depression, it’s not something you can just hide away from, you have to go and get help.”
In hindsight, Percival says her fiance probably didn’t know how to reach out.
“Which is a really sad thing,” she says.
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