Cyclist Ben Woods will arrive in Thirroul tomorrow, Friday February 9.
It’s his second-last stop on a 20,000 km bike ride around Australia- that has seen him undergo shoulder surgery, and ride through 46 degree heat in order to achieve his goal.
Ben, who has strong family ties in the Northern Illawarra, will ride from Huskisson to Thirroul on Friday morning then will set off early on Saturday for the final leg, arriving at Manly at lunchtime- and it’s all to raise awareness of mental health and depression.
Ben lost his brother and best mate Jason to depression in 2015, so he set off in June last year to pass through every state and territory, in the hope of starting a conversation about mental health.
From 4pm Friday, he’ll be guest of honour at a reception at Thirroul Surf Club.
Ben’s uncle Steve Gibbeson says more than 150 people are expected to attend the night, which will celebrate this incredible achievement.
“Anyone who wants to hear Ben’s story is welcome to attend,” says Steve. “It’s a gold coin donation with money going to Ben’s fundraising total.”
Steve says the ride hasn’t been without mishap. “Ben collided with a car at Redcliff in QLD and had to have surgery on his shoulder,” he says. “It meant he was off the road for eight weeks, which resulted in him having to ride through the heat of summer, in temperatures of up to 46 degrees!”
But Ben says it’s all been worth it because it’s a cause so dear to his heart.
“Everyone knows someone, or has been someone, who has suffered from anxiety and depression,” says Ben on his website. “If this journey can prevent even a single death due to suicide, the death of someone else’s loved one, then it will be worth it.
“In the months leading up to his passing, Jason spoke often about wanting to travel around Australia. A dream and adventure that I thought would be amazing to share together one day. After Jason passed I realised that this adventure was still possible. But instead of the journey being just Jase and I, it could be shared with each and every person out there who may be struggling with a similar battle.
“It is a way to reach out to others suffering with anxiety and depression. A way to send a message to other families who have lost a loved one. A chance to stand up and shout out against the stigma surrounding mental illness.
“If this journey gets people talking about mental health, if it inspires someone to reach out to a stranger, a friend, a loved one, then every kilometre will have been worth it.
Ben has collected more than $250,000 along the way and will support The Black Dog Institute. He’s also carried out several public speaking engagements and school presentations along the way.
To donate directly to the “Black Dog Institute” in support of this cause, and for more information about the ride, please have a look HERE