Clara Hughes is a Canadian hero. She is the only athlete in the history of the Olympic Games to win multiple medals in BOTH the summer games and the winter games.
Yep, you read that right. She’s a six-time Olympic medalist, winning gold, bronze, and silver in speed skating and three bronze medals in cycling. That’s pretty awesome on its own. But that’s not all Clara Hughes is about. She’s awesome for a whole bunch of other reasons. Her website subtitle is “Olympian, Humanitarian, Motivator.” And she is definitely all three.
One of the things that shows her awesomeness is Clara’s Big Ride. Right now Clara is riding around Canada on a bicycle in an effort to “create a stigma-free Canada.” Her Big Ride will take her to over 95 communities, attending more than 200 events in 110 days to raise awareness in Canada about the stigma surrounding mental illness. It’s a grueling schedule for a cause close to her heart. She was sidelined from her sports for a period of time when she faced a dark depression that took away all of her motivation.
The seventeen week (110 days) ride will take her all over Canada, ending up in our capital city, Ottawa, on July 1 for Canada’s birthday. If you count backwards from that, you’ll know that she started on March 14 in Toronto. Those of us from around here know that it’s been a chilly winter that’s kind of gone on and on and on. Cold riding conditions even for an Olympic speed skater!
She is going to average 150 km per day, some days riding as much as 225 km; others taking it easier to cover 75 km. She “will visit every province and territory in Canada, to grow awareness and action in mental health and help end the stigma around mental illness.”
She already made her pass through London and made a brief appearance at an anti-stigma event at the Western Fair Grounds last week. If you’d like to follow Clara’s Big Ride, make a donation, or support the cause in other ways, you can find plenty of information about it on the website.