Hawaiian CEO and Chairman of the West Coast Eagles Russell Gibbs is pulling on the lycra for another year to take part in the Hawaiian Ride for Youth CEO Challenge for Youth Focus.
This year is the fourth time Russell has taken part in the event, he also participated in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The CEO Challenge is the final leg of the Ride, with cyclists travelling 80 kilometres from Mandurah to Perth, finishing up with the rest of the team in Kings Park.
The Hawaiian Ride for Youth is held each year with the full route involving cyclists riding more than 3,000kms from Albany or Geraldton to Perth to raise funds and awareness for Youth Focus.
“Tragically, 54 young Western Australian’s aged between 15 and 24 died by suicide last year,” Mr Gibbs said.
“Events like the Hawaiian Ride for Youth are vital to help raise awareness of mental health issues and provide support for young people at risk of anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide.
“Youth Focus is an amazing organisation, delivering real change to young people experiencing mental health issues.
“Hawaiian has been the naming sponsor since the event began 16 years ago, the Ride has raised more than $17.5 million since 2003, including a record-breaking $2.5 million last year.
“The camaraderie between team members during the ride is a great experience, I have been surprised by the resilience of the event and the impact it has on communities and riders above and beyond fundraising.
“My ambition is to one day take part in the whole ride, I’ve often threatened to do it, the CEO Challenge is my way of working into it.
“I still consider myself to be an amateur compared to most of the other riders. I would like to train more, but because of work and travel commitments, at the moment I only do a couple of runs and 2 rides of around 60kms a week.
“Thankfully I’ve never had any major crashes, my worst was when I first started and I forgot my feet were clipped into my peddles. I look back and laugh at that now.
“I have been the CEO Challenge Ambassador since 2015, when the event was launched, and I thoroughly encourage any CEO’s wanting a challenge to get on board next year. You won’t regret it,” Mr Gibbs said
This year 33 teams made up of 176 cyclists will take part across four routes. These include; the Coastal, Inland and Wheatbelt routes from Albany to Perth, and the Mid-West route from Geraldton to Perth.
Along the way, riders will visit 26 regional high schools and speak with more than 3,500 students about the importance of good mental health and emotional wellbeing.
If you would like to congratulate the riders on a job well done, a welcome home ceremony will be held in Kings Park from 11:45am on Saturday, 24 March. For more information on the Hawaiian Ride for Youth or Youth Focus visit https://www.rideforyouth.com.au/.