For Alex Wood, a bike ride from Melbourne to Canberra to raise funds for a mental health charity is personal.
He lost his father, Richard Wood, to suicide in March 2015, and has since highlighted the importance of the Black Dog Institute and the help it provides to people struggling with depression.
“It would be great to end up in a society where we don’t have high rates of suicide,” says the Deputy Manager, Graduate team, in the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences’ Student and Education Office.
“There is help available and it’s tough to come forward, but you really should as the help and support services can be the difference, and they save lives.”
This Saturday, Alex and his friend Enzo D’Ambrogio, who also lost his father to suicide, will start the Black Dog Institute’s Zoo 2 Zoo ride from Melbourne Zoo to Canberra’s National Zoo and Aquarium.
They aim to ride 840km over six days, and have set a fundraising target of $5,000.
In 2016, the pair joined the 475km three-day ride between Canberra’s Zoo and Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo, and raised more than $8,000 of the Institute’s $169,000 total.
“It was a fantastic result,” Alex recalls.
“In 2016 it was a metaphor for life itself because you need preparation and the support of others to get you over the line.
“We all had a great support crew and you’d stop on a quiet stretch of road for supplies like grapes and chips and muesli bars.”
This year’s ride includes scaling the Snowy Mountains via Thredbo, before reaching Canberra on 9 March.
“The total ascent is 4,000m on the Thredbo day and while I’m worried, I know I’m going to do it,” Alex says.
“The support from my ANU colleagues has been excellent. People have been really generous with their donations and words of encouragement.
“It’s those words which really help drive you when you’re in your 10th or 11th hour on the bike.”
Alex and Enzo’s donation page is here.
The Black Dog Institute is not a crisis centre. If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call 000 or Lifeline 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.