In 2001, Kerry and Ginny Dennehy lost their 17-year-old son Kelty to suicide.
The same year, they launched The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation to help those coping with a similar trauma and to raise funds for mental health resources.
Tragedy hit the family again in 2009 when their 23-year-old daughter Riley, who struggled with the loss of her brother for years, passed away suddenly while travelling in Asia.
Determined to help others after the loss of their two children, the Dennehys and their foundation continue the long journey of changing how Canada perceives the disease of depression.
This summer, the 60-plus-year-old parents are cycling 8,000 kilometres across Canada on their Enough is Enough Ride to end the stigma of mental illness and the lack of care for sufferers. They arrived for a rally in Brandon on Monday evening.
"This ride is deeply important to us, as charity fundraisers and as parents," Ginny said. "Since we lost our son Kelty to depression-related suicide in 2001, we have worked to ensure that young people — and families — do not have to endure the same trauma.
"Enough is Enough is the next step in this process to help provide resources, awareness and care needed by all sufferers of mental illness, regardless of age or location."
Since Kelty’s death, the foundation has raised more than $5 million. The Enough is Enough Ride aims to raise $1 million as part of the $6.7 million needed to create a Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre in every province and territory in Canada.
The Dennehys left Whistler, B.C., on Mother’s Day with the hope of arriving at Cape Spear, N.L., in August. Along the way they’ve hosted fundraisers, awareness campaigns and talks to get their message across.
Such a message becomes more essential each day. According to a foundation release, suicide continues to be the second leading cause of death for Canadian youth — the third-highest rate in the industrialized world.
Depression is forecast to be the second leading cause of disability by 2020.
Although up to 70 per cent of mental health problems begin during childhood, the release says, fewer than one-quarter of those affected have access to the services they need.
The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation works with health workers, mental health organizations and community partners.
All money raised during the Enough is Enough Ride will remain within the province in which it was received.
» Brandon Sun