(Photo - Contributed)

(Photo - Contributed)

West Kelowna biker treks across the province to raise money for mental health

Biffart completed the ride in 13 days, raising $40,000 along the way

A West Kelowna man set a goal to raise money for mental health awareness and not even one month later he exceeded his own expectations.

After falling in love with biking last year, 23-year-old Sam Biffart was trying to find a way to challenge himself and came up with the idea to bike across the province from Victoria to the B.C./Alberta border. At the same time, he wanted to raise money for mental health initiatives and teamed up with Third Space Charity. Biffart knew it would be a good fit as Third Space wants to help young adults with their mental health struggles.

On June 5, Biffart started his cross-province ride with the goal of raising $15,000. After surpassing the goal, the Stober Foundation caught wind of it and was so impressed that they doubled the money that Biffart raised. The final total amounts to $40,000.

“When they got in touch and let me know they wanted to match what I’d raised with B.C. Trek, I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. I’m so incredibly grateful,” said Biffart. “This whole wild adventure challenged me mentally and physically in more ways than I could ever have imagined, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of so many friends, family, sponsors, and even complete strangers, who donated money, and rooted me on along the way.”

His journey ended on June 21, after riding more than 1,500 kilometres with 15,500 metres of incline. For reference, that’s the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest twice.

“I’d planned to stay off main roads and camp as much as possible, but given the weather and other factors, I had to change plans in order to finish the journey,” said Biffart. “It was definitely wild, and one of the most fulfilling, uncomfortable, memorable, painful at times, exhilarating, fun, exhausting, and enjoyable adventures of my life so far. It taught me a lot about my own capabilities, and I can’t wait for the next one.

The money will be going towards a practicing program for counsellors in training as well as free supportive care for young adults.

“We’re absolutely blown away by Sam’s commitment to supporting young adult mental health, and the incredible effort and passion he put into this fundraising bike ride,” says Third Space’s executive director Karen Mason. “Not only will the money he raised truly help change lives, but he’s also been an incredible inspiration and example of resilience to so many along the way.”

From September to December 2020, one in five Canadians screened for positive symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety, while ages 18-24 tested three times higher than older adults. Additionally, 68 per cent reported that their mental health has worsened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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