CENTRE WELLINGTON – Councillor Neil Dunsmore took the first steps of his walk to Ottawa for mental health awareness and support.
On Saturday, Dunsmore began his journey called Steps to Stop the Silence which will see him walk 30 km a day to reach Ottawa by Sept. 27.
He is raising funds for the Cody Shepperd Project which supports families affected by mental health and suicide.
Cody Shepperd was a Centre Wellington District High School student who died from suicide in 2017. Cody Shepperd’s parents created the foundation in memory of their son to stop the silence around mental health struggles.
A group of supporters gathered at Centre Wellington’s municipal office in Elora to see Dunsmore off and to join him on the first leg of his journey.
Mayor Kelly Linton said to the crowd that he’s proud to be Dunsmore's colleague on council because he does more than just talk.
“This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about,” Linton said. “He’s going to be out walking for a very important cause to this community. He doesn’t just say the right things like a lot of politicians, he actually does it.”
Darcy Shepperd said she was honoured and touched by Dunsmore walking to bring awareness to an issue close to her. She said she’s glad to see how many people want to help when she looks at the donations coming in to the Cody Shepperd Project.
“Seeing those numbers coming in and people that want to help get the awareness out there it means the world to us,” Shepperd said. “When I hugged Neil this morning I said ‘You’re doing all the work and I’m the one crying.’”
Before he left, Dunsmore encouraged the crowd to reach out to people in their life to make sure they are mentally well.
“Defeating or helping with mental health issues is going to be an on-going project and we have to do this every single day,” Dunsmore said. “That’s why this is called Steps to Stop the Silence and today is the first step.”