When I was still riding my motorcycle, I always enjoyed participating in some of the charity rides that were run in communities close to home.  It was a great way to get out, discover new routes, meet like-minded people, and raise funds for a good cause.  One of the rides I remember reading about was Emily’s Memorial Ride for Mental Health Awareness.  The event was started by Emily’s parents.  They had lost Emily in a long and painful struggle with mental illness.  Their response to this loss is both heartbreaking and inspiring. 

The Taylors have turned their personal tragedy into an admirable way to support the program that became such an important part of their journey with Emily.  Their efforts provide financial support to CASA House, a program for youths at mental health risk.  They had discovered through their experience, that CASA offered the level of help they needed, but that funding shortfalls meant that some patients were not able to receive treatment for the duration that was required.  Despite their loss, the Taylors remain focused on this shortfall, and the opportunity to turn that around for others who would find themselves in a similar situation.  Their efforts give us all a wonderful example of the strength of community in the face of challenges.

 Here is their story, in the words of Stephanie Taylor…

In April 2014, five months after losing Emily, I made the decision that I wanted to buy a motorcycle and learn to ride.  We had horses for six years – Emily’s passion – but we had to sell them all because it was just too emotionally painful to be around them as that was Emily’s second home.  Rick had started riding a motorcycle in 2008 and so we were both able to share this new hobby.

We also knew how generous and supportive the motorcycle community is and in September 2014 on the drive home from volunteering at the Stony Plain Rotary Run for Life, (a fundraising run for suicide awareness/prevention), we decided we needed to start a ride in Emily’s memory.  But we weren’t strong enough yet…  In December 2015, we decided we were strong enough.

I put out a message on Facebook to a local motorcycle riders group and almost immediately, I received an offer of assistance from Liane Langlois.  We met for lunch just before Christmas 2015 and with her encouragement and support, we launched the first annual Emily’s ride in 2016.  We met with the CASA Foundation in January 2016 about our story and our vision for the ride and the rest is history.

We continue to advocate for more mental health funding and treatment options for CASA to this day.  We advocate so that other parents might not have to travel this journey that we are on.  We will never get over the loss of Emily…you can’t get over losing your child.  But as part of our recovery, we refuse to sit silent and to let Emily’s memory and how the health system failed her be forgotten.