Monday, September 21, 2020

Pedal Your Butte Off and Trek for Life events support mental health in the valley

Memorial hike September 11, virtual party September

By Kendra Walker

There may be some new Crested Butte traditions emerging, with the upcoming September events to raise awareness surrounding the needs for mental health services in the Gunnison Valley.

Paul Uhl is organizing two fundraising events this year to involve the greater Crested Butte community and raise awareness for mental illness and suicide—the second annual Trek for Life hike on West Maroon Pass on September 11, and a new virtual event, Pedal Your Butte Off, available for participation between now and September 10.

Proceeds from the fundraisers will go toward helping the Center for Mental Health (CMH) provide mental health services and education on mental health illness and suicide prevention in the Gunnison Valley.

Trek for Life

The Trek for Life event first began as a 12-mile memorial hike to remember Kyle Uhl, Paul’s son. Kyle hiked the West Maroon trail during the same September weekend in 2018 before tragically losing his life by suicide in October 2018. His father established Trek for Life to raise awareness and spur a dialogue about suicide, and reduce the stigma surrounding behavioral health.

The hike will begin on Friday, September 11 at 6:30 a.m. at Maroon Lake outside of Snowmass, up West Maroon Pass and down to the Schofield Park trailhead outside of Crested Butte. Once at the Schofield trailhead, trekkers will catch a ride into town.

Last year’s event raised more than $16,000 for CMH to go toward individuals in the Crested Butte community who don’t have insurance or cannot afford mental health care.

To register for Trek for Life and for more information about the hike logistics, visit trekforlife.net. Participants can also register to do the West Maroon trek on their own any day, and are encouraged to post photos and videos to the event Facebook page.

Pedal Your Butte Off

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Uhl’s inaugural Pedal Your Butte Off event will be held virtually this year, but in true Crested Butte fashion invites participants to show off their creativity in this human-powered wheel event.

How it works: Register online for free and enter a human-powered wheeled device (no motors allowed); donate or encourage friends and family to donate in your name; decorate yourself and your wheeled device; ride your apparatus anywhere, any time; and post photos or videos to the event Facebook page by Thursday, September 10. Everyone can vote for their favorite entries and the winner will be announced during a virtual awards party on Saturday, September 12 at 10 a.m.

To register for Pedal Your Butte Off, visit trekforlife.net.

In the decision to add the Pedal Your Butte Off event alongside the Trek for Life hike, Uhl really wanted to include more folks in the community in a way that allows for more participation and therefore spreads more awareness of the CMH’s mission.

“We really wanted to connect with the community in a meaningful way, to connect with the people we feel we need to communicate with and reach those that are at risk in the greater Crested Butte/Gunnison County area,” Uhl said. “We want to provide an upbeat event that will help people become aware, but also make it easier to talk about suicide and mental health issues.”

Uhl encourages participants to use their good, old-fashioned Crested Butte creativity, “Anything with a wheel that’s powered by a human can be entered. Office chairs, shopping carts, a skateboard, a unicycle… Decorate your wheeled entry, decorate yourself. Have fun with it.”

And while he hopes to run next year’s Pedal Your Butte Off as a live, in-person event, Uhl is looking forward to the introductory virtual event this year. “Our reach now is more international and we can speak to people around the globe,” he said. “It’s been kind of a blessing in disguise because it will help us extend our reach and build greater awareness and help the community in a much deeper way.”

To register for either event, visit trekforlife.net. Event sponsors include Gunnison Valley Health, The Center for Mental Health, Bluebird Real Estate, Pinnacle Orthopedics, KBUT Radio and Elevation Hotel & Spa.

If you, a friend or loved one is in need of help, contact the free, 24-hour Center for Mental Health support line (970) 252-6220, or text “talk” to 38255 to connect with a national crisis counselor. The Center for Mental Health in Crested Butte is located at 214 Sixth St., Suite 4, (970) 252-3200.

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