Why I will get on my mountain bike and ride 650kms for mental health and TourXOz

Sam Dammers senior consultant at Versent

Sam Dammers

Senior Cloud Ops Engineer

May 28, 2019

This Saturday, 1 June 2019, I will join 10 of my Versent teammates, and 50 others to ride 650kms from Hann River Road House (outside of Cairns) to the top of Australia, arriving at Cape York eight days later. Holy sh*t.

The ride is the brainchild of not-for-profit organisation TourXOz and the fifth bi-annual event since 2010 raising funds for the Black Dog Institute and awareness about mental health across rural and regional Australia.

For me, this ride has special significance since my wife’s mum was diagnosed with aggressive cancer three years ago. I’ve not actually ridden a bike since I was a teenager, but I really want to do this ride.

It’s hard watching someone so close to you ravaged by such a debilitating disease only to have that struggle compounded with mental health concerns.

I really want to raise awareness about mental health especially given the rise in the number of people developing cancer who are finding it difficult to cope emotionally and mentally.

It’s going to be a gruelling physical and mental challenge, but riding with my work mates will get me over the line… I hope.

Versent has embraced the mental health issue in the workplace and for the second time, sponsored the TourXOz events.

We are proactive supporters of mental health programs in the workplace. We talk openly and freely about the importance of taking care of yourself and looking after your work colleagues, family and friends when it comes to mental health.

Versent Employee Sam Dammers with bike for mental health and TourXOzSammy D on a practice ride.

TourXOz is aiming raise another $250,000 for the Black Dog Institute to target programs to help the most challenging illnesses.

The ride will also enable the next stage in research which began with the 2017 TourXOz Perth to Broome event where Black Dog Institute scientists used the event as a unique opportunity to study how mood changes over the course of such an event, and the relationship with overall mental health.

As our CTO and founder James Coxon, who will also take part in the ride this year, said,

“Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects so many Australians. These issues have touched a lot of the community at and around Versent, and we are so proud to participate in the ride and wish all of the cyclists the best of luck on the journey.”

If you’re still reading, thank you!… and I’ll just shamelessly plug where you can donate to the cause right here 🙂

See you in Cairns!

Some Mental Health facts

  • The World Health Organisation has predicted that depression will be the single largest health concern for both developed and non-developed countries by 2030.
  • Every day, at least six Australians die from suicide and a further thirty people will attempt to take their own life.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24.
  • It is estimated that less than half of all Australians experiencing poor mental health will seek help for their condition.

Source: The Black Dog Institute

Sam is focused on automation at Versent. “Automate all the things and never ‘step over something’ that can be fixed, enhanced or progressed right then and there without compromising current priorities.”


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