Stoney Creek native cycling coast-to-coast for mental health

Community Jun 20, 2017 by Laura Lennie Stoney Creek News

Jim Zvonar first dreamed of bicycling across Canada in his 20s.

The Stoney Creek resident and Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School physics teacher says he felt inspired after reading the book Cycling Canada by John M. Smith.

“My dream and the book were placed on a shelf until I realized I was going to turn 50 on July 30,” he said. “I decided the trip would be a great adventure to finally complete this summer.”

In addition to fulfilling a dream and marking the milestone, Zvonar wanted to cycle across the country for a cause.

He decided to put the pedal to the metal to raise awareness about mental health and funds for the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton which works with youth inside schools.

For Zvonar, the cause is a personal one.

His uncle, cousin and brother-in-law each battled mental health issues before taking their own lives.

Zvonar said his brother-in-law’s fight with mental health problems was the most recent one and took a great toll on the family, as members watched him “spiral into a deeper and darker place that he could not get himself out of.”

“It’s difficult to understand how someone can reach those depths of despair, where the only option they feel they have is to take their own life,” he said. “I feel that if we can catch individuals early enough and give them the tools to cope with the mental issues they encounter, it may help prevent what happened to my brother-in-law later on in life.”

Zvonar will board a flight to Victoria, B.C., on June 30.

He will then celebrate Canada Day there before jumping on his bike and beginning his adventure on July 2.

Zvonar will start from Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway, located adjacent to Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, and finish in Cape Spear, N.L., situated just outside of St. John’s on the east coast.

He will cycle for about 50 days, rest for six and will need to average approximately 150 kilometres a day to cover the nearly 7,500-kilometre journey.

Zvonar will be cycling without any support vehicles.

He’ll be riding with his clothes, camping equipment, cooking gear and anything else he needs to survive the duration of the trip.

“I’ve been an avid cyclist all my life,” Zvonar said. “I’m hoping that that passion will allow me to have the physical and mental fortitude to keep going day after day until my goal has been accomplished.”

Zvonar said being able to do something like this for his 50th and Canada’s 150th birthday will make for an incredible adventure.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what Canada has to offer on the seat and pace of a bike,” he said. “When driving, many times you miss the best things in life that the country and landscape have to offer. Apart from taking in the landscape, I hope to meet and talk to many people across the country.”

Zvonar said while riding his bike, he’ll also be thinking about his uncle, cousin, brother-in-law and all of those battling mental health issues.

Often, there’s a stigma attached to those with mental health problems, he said.

“If we can accept and treat someone with a broken limb, why can we not have the same empathy and treatment for someone who has a broken mind?” Zvonar asked. “If we talk frankly about the issue of mental health, instead of hiding it in the closet or not talking about it, we may be able to wipe the stigma associated with it so that people no longer need to hide and live in shame with its debilitating effects or, in many cases, the final, fatal outcome that it can lead to.”

For more information on Zvonar’s journey and how you can help, visit cyclingc2c.ca.

Stoney Creek native cycling coast-to-coast for mental health

Jim Zvonar riding to raise awareness, funds for Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton

Community Jun 20, 2017 by Laura Lennie Stoney Creek News

Jim Zvonar first dreamed of bicycling across Canada in his 20s.

The Stoney Creek resident and Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School physics teacher says he felt inspired after reading the book Cycling Canada by John M. Smith.

“My dream and the book were placed on a shelf until I realized I was going to turn 50 on July 30,” he said. “I decided the trip would be a great adventure to finally complete this summer.”

In addition to fulfilling a dream and marking the milestone, Zvonar wanted to cycle across the country for a cause.

If we can accept and treat someone with a broken limb, why can we not have the same empathy and treatment for someone who has a broken mind?

He decided to put the pedal to the metal to raise awareness about mental health and funds for the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton which works with youth inside schools.

For Zvonar, the cause is a personal one.

His uncle, cousin and brother-in-law each battled mental health issues before taking their own lives.

Zvonar said his brother-in-law’s fight with mental health problems was the most recent one and took a great toll on the family, as members watched him “spiral into a deeper and darker place that he could not get himself out of.”

“It’s difficult to understand how someone can reach those depths of despair, where the only option they feel they have is to take their own life,” he said. “I feel that if we can catch individuals early enough and give them the tools to cope with the mental issues they encounter, it may help prevent what happened to my brother-in-law later on in life.”

Zvonar will board a flight to Victoria, B.C., on June 30.

He will then celebrate Canada Day there before jumping on his bike and beginning his adventure on July 2.

Zvonar will start from Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway, located adjacent to Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, and finish in Cape Spear, N.L., situated just outside of St. John’s on the east coast.

He will cycle for about 50 days, rest for six and will need to average approximately 150 kilometres a day to cover the nearly 7,500-kilometre journey.

Zvonar will be cycling without any support vehicles.

He’ll be riding with his clothes, camping equipment, cooking gear and anything else he needs to survive the duration of the trip.

“I’ve been an avid cyclist all my life,” Zvonar said. “I’m hoping that that passion will allow me to have the physical and mental fortitude to keep going day after day until my goal has been accomplished.”

Zvonar said being able to do something like this for his 50th and Canada’s 150th birthday will make for an incredible adventure.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what Canada has to offer on the seat and pace of a bike,” he said. “When driving, many times you miss the best things in life that the country and landscape have to offer. Apart from taking in the landscape, I hope to meet and talk to many people across the country.”

Zvonar said while riding his bike, he’ll also be thinking about his uncle, cousin, brother-in-law and all of those battling mental health issues.

Often, there’s a stigma attached to those with mental health problems, he said.

“If we can accept and treat someone with a broken limb, why can we not have the same empathy and treatment for someone who has a broken mind?” Zvonar asked. “If we talk frankly about the issue of mental health, instead of hiding it in the closet or not talking about it, we may be able to wipe the stigma associated with it so that people no longer need to hide and live in shame with its debilitating effects or, in many cases, the final, fatal outcome that it can lead to.”

For more information on Zvonar’s journey and how you can help, visit cyclingc2c.ca.

Stoney Creek native cycling coast-to-coast for mental health

Jim Zvonar riding to raise awareness, funds for Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton

Community Jun 20, 2017 by Laura Lennie Stoney Creek News

Jim Zvonar first dreamed of bicycling across Canada in his 20s.

The Stoney Creek resident and Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School physics teacher says he felt inspired after reading the book Cycling Canada by John M. Smith.

“My dream and the book were placed on a shelf until I realized I was going to turn 50 on July 30,” he said. “I decided the trip would be a great adventure to finally complete this summer.”

In addition to fulfilling a dream and marking the milestone, Zvonar wanted to cycle across the country for a cause.

If we can accept and treat someone with a broken limb, why can we not have the same empathy and treatment for someone who has a broken mind?

He decided to put the pedal to the metal to raise awareness about mental health and funds for the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton which works with youth inside schools.

For Zvonar, the cause is a personal one.

His uncle, cousin and brother-in-law each battled mental health issues before taking their own lives.

Zvonar said his brother-in-law’s fight with mental health problems was the most recent one and took a great toll on the family, as members watched him “spiral into a deeper and darker place that he could not get himself out of.”

“It’s difficult to understand how someone can reach those depths of despair, where the only option they feel they have is to take their own life,” he said. “I feel that if we can catch individuals early enough and give them the tools to cope with the mental issues they encounter, it may help prevent what happened to my brother-in-law later on in life.”

Zvonar will board a flight to Victoria, B.C., on June 30.

He will then celebrate Canada Day there before jumping on his bike and beginning his adventure on July 2.

Zvonar will start from Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway, located adjacent to Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, and finish in Cape Spear, N.L., situated just outside of St. John’s on the east coast.

He will cycle for about 50 days, rest for six and will need to average approximately 150 kilometres a day to cover the nearly 7,500-kilometre journey.

Zvonar will be cycling without any support vehicles.

He’ll be riding with his clothes, camping equipment, cooking gear and anything else he needs to survive the duration of the trip.

“I’ve been an avid cyclist all my life,” Zvonar said. “I’m hoping that that passion will allow me to have the physical and mental fortitude to keep going day after day until my goal has been accomplished.”

Zvonar said being able to do something like this for his 50th and Canada’s 150th birthday will make for an incredible adventure.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what Canada has to offer on the seat and pace of a bike,” he said. “When driving, many times you miss the best things in life that the country and landscape have to offer. Apart from taking in the landscape, I hope to meet and talk to many people across the country.”

Zvonar said while riding his bike, he’ll also be thinking about his uncle, cousin, brother-in-law and all of those battling mental health issues.

Often, there’s a stigma attached to those with mental health problems, he said.

“If we can accept and treat someone with a broken limb, why can we not have the same empathy and treatment for someone who has a broken mind?” Zvonar asked. “If we talk frankly about the issue of mental health, instead of hiding it in the closet or not talking about it, we may be able to wipe the stigma associated with it so that people no longer need to hide and live in shame with its debilitating effects or, in many cases, the final, fatal outcome that it can lead to.”

For more information on Zvonar’s journey and how you can help, visit cyclingc2c.ca.