|Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson shares a photo with Marie-Josee Cleroux, a patient with the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa, during a media conference to announce the launch of the Bell SENSational Ride & Glide for mental health presented by Huawei. The event will be held Oct. 24 at Scotiabank Place (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
In Daniel Alfredsson
's mind, it is a ride of utmost importance and one that continues to inspire him every step of the way.
The Ottawa Senators captain was on hand earlier today as the Sens Foundation announced a new fundraising event, the Bell SENSational Ride & Glide for Mental Health presented by Huawei, which is set for Oct. 24 at Scotiabank Place.
For Alfredsson, it is an extension of a cause that is particularly close to his heart. He has been a spokesman for the You Know Who I Am campaign, which was launched two years ago by the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health to promote awareness of the issue.
"It falls in line with my involvement with the Royal Ottawa for mental health, and being affected by it myself, with my sister (Cecilia) struggling with general anxiety disorder," said Alfredsson. "Most of the people (at today's media event) talked about that stigma that surrounds it. It's pretty big and it's tough for people to go and get help, and to admit they have it themselves or that a family member has a mental illness."
In the short time he's worked alongside "great people at the Royal Ottawa," Alfredsson has already noticed significant gains that have been made in breaking down those stigmas.
"I didn't know what effect (my involvement) would have it all," he said. "I think because I am well known in the city and I dared to speak up about it and I'm not ashamed of knowing someone, in my sister, having a mental illness ... it's hard. It's not an illness that you can (see). You don't have a cast on or you don't have a fever or anything.
"It does affect a lot of people and the feedback has been great. The support has been really good in the community for this cause. So far, it's been great."
Added Tim Kluke, the president/CEO of the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health: "What we found in working with Daniel and our You Know Who I Am campaign is we are breaking down stigmas and people are getting help and they are also joining this cause as volunteers."
The Bell SENSational Ride & Glide for Mental Health offers another opportunity for the public to get involved in the cause. The first 60 riders who register and raise $500 will ride for 30 minutes on a stationary bike alongside Alfredsson in the Senators' workout room at Scotiabank Place. As well, the first 375 gliders registering and raising $150 have the chance to skate on the ice at Scotiabank Place for one hour and meet Senators players.
Funds raised by the new initiative will also support the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation and the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa.
"It's one of the issues in our society that doesn't get the attention it needs and requires," said Cyril Leeder, president of Senators Sports & Entertainment. "It's great that people like Daniel and Bell and Huawei have stepped forward to really raise the awareness and do something about that. As more of us come forward and put the push on to help mental illness, we'll break down these barriers and make more progress."