Spoke Up 2018

With just over 2 weeks to go until Richard S. Fowler Junior High School’s 2nd annual Spoke Up for Mental Health bikeathon, the students at Fowler are working hard to reach their collective goal of $50,000 raised for youth mental health. They’ve recently passed the halfway mark, with $30,865pledged through their online campaign.

As exciting as racking up the dollars can be for teams competing for the ultimate prize, the experience has also allowed some of the students to reflect on the real meaning behind their fundraising. We talked to Sarah, from Team Hippie Transportation, about what participating has meant to her.

“Mental health hits close to home for some of the members of our team. We all thought if we came together we could help make a difference,” says Sarah.

To raise money and to create awareness around mental health, her team has been approaching family and friends for donations, in addition to collecting bottles and going door to door in their neighborhoods.

“With the money we raise we feel that we can make a difference and help people that suffer with this disease, and it will help other people understand the struggle of having a mental illness.”

The team came face to face with this struggle while door to door fundraising.

After a normal interaction with a kind woman who gave them a $20 donation, the girls expressed their appreciation and continued on their way. As they walked down the street, a car pulled up beside them; inside, the woman they had just met was crying.

“She rolled down her window and said ‘Thank you so much for doing this, for fundraising for mental health,’” says Sarah. The woman then told the team that 5 months prior she had lost her son to depression.

Mental health is an important and timely issue, one that is being increasingly supported, but this woman was thankful for another reason: because she’s seen the result of what happens if you don’t get help with mental health.

“The general reaction to our fundraising is that people are so thankful we’re doing it for mental health, but this one experience was really life-changing,” says Sarah. “You may not always realize it, but mental health affects everyone, and it could be your neighbor or your friend.”