This was an event for people who often can’t speak up for themselves.
More than 450 people turned out on Labor Day to participate in the seventh annual Bike 4 the Brain to raise money for mental health.
Organizers of the biking/walking event said they hoped to raise more than $15,000 to help pay for services that aid people such as Mark Allen of Overland Park.
“It means a lot,” Allen said of Monday’s fundraiser. “It’s recognition of people with our issues that we matter and that we’re important.”
The event is important because it seeks to help a population that isn’t the most politically influential when it comes to fighting for money, said Ken Sonnenschein, the event’s organizer and a child/adolescent psychiatrist.
“They might not be able to advocate as articulately nor financially like other voices in the community, and so their voices don’t get heard,” Sonnenschein said.
“This is an event that among other things allows their voices to be heard.”
And it’s an event that’s very much embraced by those who depend on mental health services.
“I think it’s a really good event that should have more awareness,” said Matthew Bernstein of Olathe. “I appreciate it a whole lot. It’s really great.”
Sonnenschein said funding for mental health services has decreased, creating funding shortages as society increasingly recognizes the need to treat mental health.
“Because we’re recognizing these illnesses, then there is more and more help that we realize is necessary,” he said.
Organizers believe the level of participation in this year’s event beat the record of 443 people who raised money last year.
“This is the biggest and best,” Sonnenschein said.
The money raised by the event helps mental health agencies in the Kansas City area. So far, Bike 4 the Brain, which is a nonprofit organization, has given out $37,500 in grants.
This year, the group awarded grants to Kids TLC, Niles Home for Children, reStart Inc., Sheffield Place, Synergy Services and the Wyandot Center for Homeless Outreach.