Celebrating 20 years of the Hawaiian Ride for Youth

08 Mar 2022

Celebrating 20 years of the Hawaiian Ride for Youth, teamwork and achievements.

On 22 March 2022, when more than 200 cyclists embark on the 700km Hawaiian Ride for Youth – they’ll not only be celebrating 20 years of teamwork, they’ll be honouring the estimated 30,000 young West Australians lives helped and saved by the efforts of the event.

It will also be a special milestone for Hawaiian. For two decades we’ve proudly partnered with Youth Focus of Australia’s premier charity event for the prevention of youth suicide and depression.

During its 20-year history, Hawaiian has supported the Hawaiian Ride for Youth in raising more than $26 million for youth mental health. This vital funding has enabled Youth Focus to deliver life-changing mental health services to more than 30,000 vulnerable young people. A further 35,000 have engaged with the event during Ride Week school visits, providing meaningful education and raising mental health awareness among regional students. Together, Hawaiian and Youth Focus are making a significant difference to the lives of young people in the Western Australian community.

Tragically, suicide remains the leading cause of death among young people under the age of 25 in Western Australia. Mental health support has never been more important and the demand for services is ever-increasing. Funds raised through the event are crucial to Youth Focus operations and ensure the organisation can support those who need it most with mental health services in their time of need. Youth Focus services are professional, accessible and importantly, are available at no cost at locations across Western Australia.

Hawaiian is proud to be embedded in the fabric of this iconic event and assist in supporting young people with mental health challenges. During Hawaiian’s two decades of support, the Hawaiian Ride for Youth has grown from 24 participants who raised $150,000 in 2003 to more than 200 participants who are peddling towards raising more than $2,000,000 in 2022. Hawaiian is proud to be part of this growth story and contribute to improving the mental health of young people and communities in Western Australia.

During Ride week from 22 March to 26 March, the Hawaiian Ride for Youth will traverse the three traditional pelotons – coastal, inland and wheatbelt – with all riders travelling more than 700 kilometres from Albany to Perth over four and a half days. In addition, there will be a ‘heritage’ peloton of 60 riders which will retrace the original 2003 coastal route.

Find out more about the history of the Hawaiian Ride for Youth by clicking here.

Make a difference to youth mental health in Western Australia by clicking here to donate to the 2022 Hawaiian Ride for Youth.

Get to know some of our riders

Peter and James Trench

James Trench was aged just three when his dad set off on the inaugural Hawaiian Ride for Youth. Ever since he can remember, his dad Peter has been involved in the event as a rider, chief coach, mentor and founder. Twenty years on, James is joining his dad as part of the heritage peloton, taking part in his first Hawaiian Ride for Youth. After experiencing panic attacks as a teenager, James understands why the cause is so important and what youth mental health struggles can be like. “It was a really hard time, but eventually I got more confidence to talk about it and to get through it,” James recalls.

Peter, who has cycled in every Hawaiian Ride for Youth (bar one due to a knee injury) is immensely proud that his son James and other young cyclists are taking part in the ride. “To have my son ride with me and doing the ride itself is so great, I know how much he is going to get out of it.”

“When we first started, the students would ask us things like “how heavy is your bike? How fast do you ride? Why do you shave your legs? – now we go into the schools, and they ask on behalf of a friend or for themselves; "who should I talk to if I can’t tell mum or dad?" and because of Youth Focus a lot of the schools have counsellors and we just start really good conversations about mental health.” Read more on the Trench's story by clicking here.

Fiona Kalaf

As the former Chief Executive Officer of Youth Focus, Fiona Kalaf knows firsthand the significant positive impact the Hawaiian Ride for Youth has on young people in Western Australia. “The Ride builds meaningful awareness through the sharing of stories with high school students, the many ways in which the hundreds of riders convey positive messages to their broad networks, and the engagement of businesses such as Hawaiian as sponsors and partners,” Fiona says.

“I’m humbled to be part of making a genuine difference and contributing to a positive future for young people while helping to build strong, resilient parents for future generations”. While the Hawaiian Ride for Youth raises a considerable amount of funds for Youth Focus, youth mental health and suicide prevention services, Fiona believes the most important element is the lasting connections that this event creates through awareness-raising. Read more on Fiona's story by clicking here.

Wayne and Jack Bradshaw

When he dons the Number 1 rider’s jersey in the heritage peloton on the 20th Anniversary of the Hawaiian Ride for Youth, Wayne Bradshaw will reflect on how far the life-changing event has come since its inception. Wayne was amongst a group of dads who, in 2002, decided to transform their past time of cycling for fitness into a charity event to help young people. “When we started the Ride, we had no idea of the impact it would make,” Wayne says.

The 2022 Hawaiian Ride for Youth will be particularly special for Wayne as his son, Jack, will be at his side cycling in his first Hawaiian Ride for youth. Jack believes the Ride’s supreme success is how it has broken down taboos surrounding discussing mental health, started open and positive conversations, and encouraged young people to ask for help. Read more on the Bradshaw's story by clicking here.

Dominique Mecoy

Losing her Father-in-Law to suicide after his long struggle with mental health challenges showed Dominique Mecoy the importance of seeking help in difficult times and developing a variety of support mechanisms.

“The experience taught me a lot about acceptance, support and openness when it comes to mental health. I resolved that I would be a better and more mindful person in the future and if I can create support for others, I would.” Her message to anyone struggling with mental health issues is: You are not alone. Help is there. Read more on Dominique's story by clicking here.

Our partnership success

  • Hawaiian has supported the iconic Hawaiian Ride for Youth in raising more than $26 million since its inception in 2003.
  • This has enabled Youth Focus to deliver life-changing mental health services to more than 30,000 young Western Australians.
  • The Hawaiian Ride for Youth has engaged with more than 35,000 high school students to raise mental health awareness.
  • In 20 years, the Hawaiian Ride for Youth has grown from 24 participants who raised $150,000 in 2003 to more than 200 participants who are peddling towards raising more than $2,000,000 in 2022.

What Youth Focus does

  • Youth Focus is a leading provider of youth mental health services in Western Australia.
  • It is the only specialist non-government youth mental health service in WA working to prevent youth suicide and improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged between 12 and 25.
  • Services offered by Youth Focus include face-to-face and web-based youth counselling, group-based therapy, vocational support, mentoring, in-school, workplace and community education and engagement programs. The majority of Youth Focus clients are 15 to 17 years of age.
  • The top five presenting symptoms are: anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, family conflict and school stress.

The facts on Youth Mental Health

  • Around 75% of all mental health issues first appear in young people under the age of 18.
  • The earlier that mental health challenges are identified, the earlier Youth Focus can help young people to become resilient adults.
  • Each year, one in five Australians will experience a mental health issue.
  • In 2020, 58 young Western Australians aged between 15 to 24 died by suicide. This is significant increase on 2019, when 49 young people died by suicide.
  • Suicide remains the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 44 in Australia.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that mental health support has never been more important for young people.