Pedal Your Butte Off this Sunday

Support mental health services in the Gunnison Valley

By Kendra Walker

This weekend, the third annual Pedal Your Butte Off fundraiser invites the whole community to pedal for mental health. This costume-encouraged, human-powered wheeled event takes place on Sunday, June 23, and helps raise awareness and funds to provide mental health services in the Gunnison Valley.

The event starts at 8:30 a.m. at Town Park for check-in, with the Pedal Your Butte Off Challenge ride beginning at 9:30. Participants must ride a wheeled device that is only human-powered (no motors of any kind), such as a bike, push-scooter, rollerblades, tricycle, wagon, unicycle, wheelbarrow, etc. Or in true Crested Butte style, build your own wheeled device invention.

Pedal Your Butte Off is part of the Trek for Life efforts started by organizer Paul Uhl, who lost his son Kyle in 2018 and wanted to raise awareness for mental health in the fight against suicide and eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness, especially in small mountain town communities like the Gunnison Valley. According to Crested Butte State of Mind, we have lost 13 community members to suicide in the past 16 months.

Colorado is among the states with the highest suicide rates as shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental health experts often attest the disproportionally high suicide rates in Rocky Mountain states to the high cost of mountain living, isolation and loneliness, party culture and addiction and inadequate public health resources in ski towns. 

Over the past six years, the Trek for Life and Pedal Your Butte Off events and efforts have helped to provide services for those who are underinsured and stimulate a dialogue on mental health through community education.

The Pedal Your Butte Off course this Sunday is less than two miles long and weaves through town, as participants check in at stations along the way to get their Challenge Passport stamped. The final leg goes down Elk Avenue before finishing back at Town Park for an after-party wellness celebration starting at 10:30 a.m. Elk Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic for the event.

And it wouldn’t be a Crested Butte event without a little friendly competition, as a winner of the Pedal Your Butte Off Challenge will be named at the after-party. Entrants will be judged based on a variety of factors, including their creativity with their costume and wheeled device, a completely stamped Challenge passport and amount of donations raised. 

Upon registration, participants can create a profile, make donations and ask friends and family to support them. 

The after-party will include refreshments and food trucks, mental health resources, a bouncy house with the Trailhead Children’s Museum and live music by local favorite Easy Jim at the Center for the Arts outdoor stage from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you can’t make the ride but want to attend the after-party festivities, Uhl says everybody is welcome. The post-ride celebration is free but people are strongly encouraged to make a donation for the cause. 

As of press time, the event has raised $16,725 and Uhl says the goal is to raise $40,000. “We also recently received a generous $10,000 donation from an anonymous donor,” he said. “We’re hoping folks will come out to support and contribute to providing mental health services in Crested Butte and Gunnison.”

The Pedal Your Butte Off and Trek for Life events have helped raise $74,000 for mental health services in the Gunnison Valley since 2019. Proceeds from this year’s Pedal Your Butte Off and Trek for Life events will go toward Gunnison Valley Health’s mental health services and provide access to behavioral health services for those who cannot afford them. “We’ve provided more than 700 mental health sessions for community members,” says Uhl. “GVH has done an incredible job, and if somebody is struggling they should go to GVH and mention Trek for Life.”

Folks can register for the Pedal Your Butte Off event at trekforlife.net/the-events/pedal-your-butte-off and invite friends and family to donate. “We’re really looking forward to having a fun event and hope to see everyone show up in costumes with their wacky wheeled devices,” says Uhl. 

And mark your calendars, the sixth annual Trek for Life memorial hike on West Maroon Trail will take place on September 14. Visit trekforlife.net for more information. 

Check Also

There and Back Again: Vinotok in Germany

By Dawne Belloise One of Crested Butte’s most beloved festivals got some global exposure recently. …