Olympian’s message reaches Signal Hill

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Andrew Robinson
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Clara Hughes’ journey devoted to mental health continues this week in Labrador

Six-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes fought back tears of joy as she shared her thoughts with those who gathered to greet her on Signal Hill Sunday afternoon.
“Honestly, I’m going to cry because we’re here and everyone on our team knows how hard it has been, and we actually made it,” she said on a hill cloaked in fog.

Olympian Clara Hughes gets a big hug from Seamus O’Regan after she arrived at the top of Signal Hill Sunday afternoon during the Clara’s Big Ride for mental health awareness. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Billed as “Clara’s Big Ride for Bell,” Hughes pedalled across Canada to raise awareness about mental health in Canada and the need for more resources to help those living with mental illness.

“It’s been amazing everywhere, and what it has shown us is Newfoundland and everybody here cares a whole lot about mental health,” she said Sunday, representing Day 45 of her team’s journey.

Hughes is a two-sport athlete who has experienced success both as a speed skater and a cyclist, having won medals in the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics.

Hughes’ journey will continue by air this week with a flight to Labrador. She will visit people in Hopedale and Nain. Hughes was in the latter community last year for outreach work on mental health.

“There’s amazing work being done up there. There’s a whole lot of struggle, but people care and are making a difference.”

Hughes made note of the Going Off, Going Strong program in Nain that works with at-risk youth.

“It grew in the community. It’s an organic thing that grew out of the (Nain Research Centre), and I’m so proud to actually support that,” she said, noting a speaking fee received last year in St. John’s was donated to that program.

“There’s no exception to the lacking of resources in most places when it comes to mental health, but there’s also no exception to the amount of people that are taking it into their own hands and making a difference, creating initiatives, volunteering their time, giving to the community and to people that are struggling, and I think in a big way, making the rate of people struggling and suffering in silence a lot less.”

The ride up Signal Hill was a surprising one for Hughes, who admitted to having previously confused it with Citadel Hill in Halifax, a city where she has raced before.

“Which isn’t that big of a hill compared to Signal Hill, now that I have ridden it,” she laughed. “It’s steep.”

Hughes was also grateful for the fog having experienced many days riding in rain and snow on her travels.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Nain Research Centre

Geographic location: Signal Hill, Labrador, Canada Hopedale Halifax

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  • Max Vere-Hollowaay
    April 28, 2014 - 14:20

    I've witnessed first hsnd your committment and Tenacity at the Olypics, and would like to thank you for taking on this daunting Task. Only someone with your high Public Profile could obtain thr instant recognition which you have., . The attention which the topic of Mental Illness, is now receiving is beyond compare. THANK YOU, THankYOU, Thank You , and keep up the great work..