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Judy Brunton and her son Jacob at the Mental Health in Motion event in Newmarket, Ont., on June 11, 2023. The bus behind them is MOBYSS.Handout

The organizer: Judy Brunton

The pitch: Raising $150,000 and climbing

The cause: The Canadian Mental Health Association York Region & South Simcoe

A few years ago, Judy Brunton stumbled across a fundraising event sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association while searching for a way to keep her son busy.

“I was looking for a fundraiser that had a ride portion to it because my son, who at the time was 7, would rather ride his bike anywhere than walk anywhere,” Ms. Brunton recalled from her home in Aurora, Ont. “So I found their ride.”

The annual cycling event, called Ride Don’t Hide, is held in around 30 communities across Canada in June and it has raised more than $6-million in total to fund a variety of mental-health programs.

Ms. Brunton, 48, had another reason to join the ride. Her sister has battled mental illness since her teenage years. “She got amazing care,” she said. “Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto had an amazing adolescent psychiatric program.”

She and her son have participated in the ride every year for the past decade and Ms. Brunton organizes regular fundraising activities. One of them is a tattoo event where people are encouraged to make a donation and get a tattoo of a semicolon, which has become a symbol for overcoming depression, addiction or suicidal thoughts. “In mental health the semicolon is telling people that a story isn’t over, keep going, don’t give up,” she explained.

She has raised around $150,000 in total so far and most of the money supports the CMHA’s Mobile Youth Walk-In Clinic or MOBYSS. The MOBYSS is staffed with nurses and mental-health workers who tour shelters, community centres and schools.

Ms. Brunton, who works at the University of Toronto as an administrative assistant, has no plans to slow down. “The youth need the help,” she said. “They need help and they need the help now. And that bus has actually saved a number of lives.”

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