For the last leg of the Enough Is Enough tour, Kerry and Ginny Dennehy arrived home to a reception that included dozens of friends offering congratulations, one last rally to wrap up their cross-country ride and an extremely generous donation from a longtime friend of the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation.
Thursday (Aug. 29) marked the official end of the foundation’s Enough Is Enough tour, which saw the Dennehys cycle across Canada from coast to coast looking to raise funds for mental health resources while reducing the stigma that can be associated with mental illness.
Ginny Dennehy, who with husband Kerry left Whistler on two wheels back on May 12, said she was thrilled with the reception they arrived to Thursday and the chance to share in the end of the journey with friends and family on hand.
“It was totally emotional, being away for 3 ½ months and then all of a sudden coming back to your community and seeing all those people,” she said. “To have such an amazing group of people come out here, I never expected that … and the whole celebration was just amazing.”
Both Ginny and Kerry were among a group of speakers who addressed a nearly-full theatre at Millennium Place, joined by Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, local Olympic gold medalist Ashleigh McIvor and others.
Also addressing the crowd was Andy Szocs, a retired local businessman who had announced a $1 million donation from his family to the campaign during a rally in Vancouver the day before.
Szocs was a founding board member of the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation, which was established in 2001 after Ginny and Kerry’s son, Kelty, took his own life following a battle with depression.
“I have said this many times and will say it until the day I die — our foundation would never, never be without Andy’s guidance and the help that he’s given us,” said Ginny when introducing Szocs at the rally, highlighting his commitment to the cause beyond just financial contributions.
Speaking to those gathered at the rally, Szocs stressed the importance of eradicating the stigma attached to mental illness going forward and called upon the Whistler community to become a leader on that front. He said it was clear to him that the foundation was the “best option” for him to make a major donation and see the money produce real results.
“They are the best in Canada,” he said. “I find that Ginny and Kerry carry the stigma message better than anybody else.
“Their message to individuals is: ‘We understand, we care, and we want to help.’ I think we can all do that. They’ve inspired us to carry the torch and I think that’s what they want us to do. Definitely, that’s what I want to do.”
Ginny agreed that the resort has the ability to take the lead on spreading the message of eliminating that stigma.
“I think that would be amazing. Whistler is known for so many wonderful things, and why not us, taking this cause and really moving it forward? I think we can do it,” she said.
“Not only is Whistler this unbelievable ski resort, summer place and all of those things — we have an opportunity to do something else that can truly make a difference.”
With the Szocs family’s donation added, the total amount raised during the Enough Is Enough tour came close to $1.7 million. After leading more than three-dozen rallies and cycling 8,000 kilometres across the country during the tour, Ginny said she might have some difficulty getting back into the routines of life at home.
“It’s hard to think that I’m not going to get on my bike tomorrow, because that was my job for the past 3 ½ months — not only riding my bike, but doing these rallies and to talk to people,” she said with a grin.
“There have been so many interesting things as we’ve gone along. We’ve met so many people; people have opened up their homes and opened up their hearts to us. It’s hard to explain, it really is. And as Kerry said (during the rally), seeing the country in slow-mo like we did, we live in a pretty amazing country.”