Bike 4 the Brain seeks to dispel stigma of mental illness
You probably know someone with a mental illness.
Perhaps that someone suffers from depression or schizophrenia or Asperger’s syndrome. Nearly one in three Americans will endure some form of mental disorder during their lives, research shows. Yet mental disorders remain one of the least talked-about illnesses.
Kenneth Sonnenschein is working to change that.
The Leawood psychiatrist once again is organizing a bike ride to raise awareness and help reduce the stigma that often accompanies mental illness.
The third annual Bike 4 the Brain will take place Sept. 28. It will start at 8 a.m. at the Johnson County Mental Health Center in Mission, 6000 Lamar Ave.
“We started out in the first year with about 120 riders and last year had 250,” Sonnenschein said. “We’ve grown significantly but I hope to grow it even further.”
Bikers can choose routes of 10, 25, 50 or 62.5 miles. Six rest stops will be set up offering refreshments. And volunteers will be on hand with vehicles and gear to help anyone in need.
The rest stops also will serve as centers where bikers can “get a clue about mental illness.” The bikers will be able to learn about the symptoms and treatments for various illnesses by collecting “clues” at the stops. Everyone who takes part will receive a prize.
Besides the ride, the event will feature a one-mile walk, a tricycle challenge for adults and activities for children.
The money raised from the event will help support local non-profit organizations in Kansas and Missouri that provide services to individuals with mental illness. So far, $500 has been donated to ReStart, a center in Kansas City that serves the homeless.
“It’s not a huge donation,” Sonnenschein said, “but it’s the beginning of what we hope will be a larger grant that we will be providing.”
The ride is $20 per biker at the event and $15 for signing up before Sept. 23. To register on-line go to bikeforthebrain.org or call 913-323- 6529 for more information.