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Man walks from Vancouver to Calgary for mental illness

Kyle Patterson is making the trek to raise awareness about mental illness and support the Canadian Mental Health Association

Kyle Patterson began his journey on August 1 in Surrey, B.C. Patterson is walking from Vancouver to his home in Calgary to raise awareness about the importance of talking about mental illness.

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Kyle Patterson began his journey on August 1 in Surrey, B.C. Patterson is walking from Vancouver to his home in Calgary to raise awareness about the importance of talking about mental illness.

The decision to walk almost 1,000 kilometres from one major Canadian city to another is sure to be a conversation starter, and that’s exactly what Kyle Patterson wants.

The recent college graduate is spending August hiking from Vancouver to his home in Calgary to raise awareness about mental illness and support the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“It’s been amazing so far, technically the walk started yesterday and I’ve already raised $16,000,” Patterson told Metro from Langley.

The 24-year-old said during high school, anxiety and depression took over his life.

“There would be days and sometimes weeks where I didn’t have the strength to leave my own bedroom,” Patterson said, adding he’s doing ‘a lot better now.’

During that dark time, he found playing sports and talking about his own depression and anxiety helped him a lot, so Patterson named the fundraising effort ‘Puck Off Mental Illness.’

“I found going to the hockey and lacrosse rink and playing sports with my friends was the best escape from the anxiety and depression. When you suffer, you feel alone and like no one cares – but when you start talking, it’s a big help.”

Since he announced the solo trek, Patterson said he’s heard from lots of people who want to start talking about mental health.

“People I didn’t even know suffered have reached out to me,” he said. “I hope to inspire others who are struggling with mental illness to speak up and tell their loved ones they need someone to talk to – if I can change just one person’s life, that’ll be a success I think.”

Patterson’s supplies for the month are packed into a backpack and wagon, and a hotel chain even donated several rooms for him to stay in while he’s travelling through B.C.

“My hips and shoulders are a little sore from the backpack, but the shoes I have are perfect. They're a sort of waterproof hiking boot,” he said, one day into the journey.

He said he hopes to be back in Calgary by mid-September. To donate, visit puckoff.org.

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