Black Dog Ride for dad

Ready to ride: Locals Paul and Peta Kohler and Sue and Steve Povee are preparing to ride to Alice Springs later this month to raise money and awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention.
Ready to ride: Locals Paul and Peta Kohler and Sue and Steve Povee are preparing to ride to Alice Springs later this month to raise money and awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention.

LOCAL woman Peta Kohler knows first hand the effects of depression, losing her father to the illness 15 years ago.

This has prompted her to take part in the Black Dog Ride to help raise funds for Lifeline, which raises awareness for mental illness and suicide.

Mrs Kohler will ride all the way to Alice Springs with her husband, Paul, and fellow locals Sue and Steve Povee.

The four are part of a team of eight called the South West Wild Hogs.

Mrs Kohler said she was looking forward, to the ride later this month, a 3800 kilometre, five-day trip on their Harley Davidson motorbike.

Mr and Mrs Kohler have completed long rides before, having ridden through Vietnam to the Chinese border, helping villagers along the way.

"I love it, you get to stop along the way and meet new people," Mrs Kohler said.

"Everyone has a story to tell."

About 300 people from all over Australia will take part in the ride to Alice Springs.

Collie man Richard Keller will also take part in the ride, but due to work commitments he will go only as far as Esperance.

He has previously taken part in the challenge, riding all the way to Alice Springs in 2011 and to Kalgoorlie. Mr Keller first got involved after a friend lost someone to suicide.

"He packed his bike and went on the ride, and I thought it was a great cause, so I thought I would try and help raise awareness myself," he said.

Riders in Western Australia will start in Busselton, going through Esperance, Norse man, Ceduna, Port Augusta, Coober Pedy and finally Alice Springs. The Collie group planned to meet the others riders in Kojonup, Mrs Kohler said.

She said a lot of people did not realise the full effects of depression and mental illness.

"More people died from suicide last year then car accidents," she said.

The ride to the red centre was first organised in 2009 by Steve Andrews, who rode to Alice Springs on his own. Mr Andrews had experienced depression and suicide in family members and while not suffering himself, he strongly believed something needed to be done about mental illness.

The ride begins on August 17.

Anyone who wants to help by donating can go to redcentre2013.everydayhero.com/au/paul or redcentre2013.everydayhero.com/au/richard-1