This summer, I'll be riding the STP...again. What possessed me to attempt this 200-mile ride for a second time? Easy: this time I'm riding for Ryther.
We all like to see every newborn baby as a blank slate with limitless potential, but in reality not every kiddo gets a fair chance to achieve that potential. Some endure physical, emotional, or sexual abuse that does severe damage to their healthy development. Others have mental and behavioral health needs far beyond the skill of their families to address alone.
I'm riding for Ryther because in general our society continues to undervalue mental health services until it's too late. (Check out the video on this page for one man's story of how Ryther changed the trajectory of his life.)
I'm riding for Ryther because our community desperately needs this critical resource for compassionate, professional mental and behavioral health services. (You could also watch this video that shares one child's Ryther story.)
I'm riding for Ryther because in fact that means I'm riding for the boys who have turned to substance abuse as a coping tool for their pain and are now working to overcome their addiction and its devastation in their lives. I'm riding for the girls whose bodily autonomy has been violated by those closest to them and are now working to establish confidence and healthy relationship skills. I'm riding for the kids in our residential cottages--who, on average, have been with 9 different families before coming to Ryther--who are processing an almost unimaginable array of griefs, losses, traumas, and mental health challenges.
On our blog, one of the staff in Ryther’s Sub-Acute Residential Care Program describes how Ryther staff use music in the cottages. She relays the story of a nine-year-old boy demonstrating that he was ready to be safe after having an outburst: "Sitting near him, I could hear him singing quietly to himself. The song he sang was 'OOO Child;' the lyrics say that 'things are gonna get easier.' He sang it to himself as a reminder, a mantra, a thread of hope." Ryther offers hope to the children and families who need it most, hope that things really can get a bit easier, a bit brighter. That's what I'm riding for.
I won't ask you to pedal 202 miles, but please consider joining me in spirit on this ride by making a donation to Ryther. I'll throw in some personal incentives:
* Donate $50 and I'll send you a postcard from glamorous Centralia, the halfway point!
* Donate $100 and I'll send you a postcard from Centralia AND one from Portland itself!
* Donate $202 (that's just one dollar for each mile!) and I'll send you the postcards as above AND get you a picture at the ride's finish of me posing with the item of your choice! (This will be subject to reasonable weight limits, transportability, etc...we'll talk.)
Thanks in advance for riding for Ryther with me. Your help really does make a huge difference, and we are very grateful.
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About the Ride for Ryther
Now in its third year, the Ride for Ryther has grown to a team of 11 including 6 Ryther staff members, John Gonzales, Siri Gillespie, Robin Bennett, Becky Hutton, Marbie Descatamiento and Colin Powers, and some community supporters. The team will be cycling the 202 miles from Seattle to Portland July 12-13 to raise awareness and funds to support Ryther's programs.
This year, donations made to Ride for Ryther will go towards Specific Assistance, a fund that provides specific activities and items for the children in our Sub Acute Residential Treatment Program:
$50 would purchase new outfits for a child's adoption photo shoot
$100 would provide therapeutic yoga classes for all children for one month
$250 would allow five kids to attend a week-long summer camp of their choice
Ryther is a leader in behavioral health services for children, teens and youth - some of the most vulnerable in Washington state. Those they serve have often been affected by abuse, neglect, mental illness, addiction or trauma.
Ryther is dedicated to providing comprehensive services and innovative treatments so that every child and family they work with may experience new ways of thinking, develop positive relationships and realize a better life.
The team is riding as part of the large Group Health STP ride: http://www.cascade.org/ride-major-rides/group-health-stp
Visit Ryther's website for more info: www.ryther.org