Reigning Australian Champion of Champions Ray Pearse will swap the bowls for a bike in January to raise funds and awareness around suicide prevention.
Along with best mate and bowler at Cabra Bowls Group Ben McCall, Pearse will cycle over 800km from Sydney to the South Tweed over the course of a week in January, 2021.
The pair have teamed up Gotcha4Life, a non-for-profit organisation focusing on mental health, to challenge themselves and raise awareness about dealing with mental health issues.
“We first came up with the idea early in the COVID lockdown period seeing all the push-up challenges (for mental health) on Facebook,” Pearse said.
“We thought of doing something a bit bigger, so the idea of the bike ride was born.”
Pearse said he has a personal connection with the issues of mental health and suicide, driving his passion for the fundraiser.
“People don’t realise how close in your own backyard it can be. You hear stories all the time about it but until it hits your circle then it starts to hit home,” he said.
“We have a friend of a friend who lost two people on the same night to suicide with no relation between the two. To see those friends struggle hurts so we really hope we can make a difference with what we are doing.”
Pearse said he hopes to make an impact with the event.
“Gotcha4Life is a great organisation with a goal of preventing suicide. About eight people take their life a day in Australia, and that is eight too many,” he said.
“The ride is about raising not just funds but also awareness about mental health, and trying to provide tools for people who might be struggling as well as for people who might have friends they think are struggling.
“Just asking someone if they’re ok isn’t deep enough for me. It is about making them comfortable enough for them to say they’re not ok. BeyondBlue and plenty of other organisations all do a really good job with opportunities to talk to someone if you are struggling.”
Pearse and McCall will ride alongside each other, cycling about 120kms a day starting at Redfern Oval, home to their beloved South Sydney Rabbits on January 13th 2021.
Fundraising efforts kicked off today with the opening of a donation line for people to contribute to.
Pearse said several other fundraisers will take place too as well as getting together a UBC Gotch4Life team.
“We are working hard with a few key stakeholders and aim at placing a team in the upcoming UBC competition,” he said.
“We are also looking for sponsors to try and help with the costs of the event. Any and all support is welcome for a great cause.”
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If you or someone you know is in need of support, phone Lifeline 13 11 14.