WHEN Attadale teenager Nic Funga asked father Phil to dust off his bicycle and begin training for a fourth Hawaiian Ride for Youth, it was an easy decision to make.
On March 21, having celebrated his 18th birthday the day prior, Nic will become the youngest ever participant in the annual charity ride that helps fund Youth Focus’s ongoing battle against youth suicide and depression.
Phil took part in three consecutive rides from 2009 to 2011 and did not hesitate to saddle up again when approached by his son.
“More people are killed every year through suicide than car accidents and yet there is all this money spent on road deaths with just a fraction spent on mental health and suicide prevention,” Phil said.
“It’s an unspoken epidemic.”
An epidemic that touched the Funga family personally when Kai Eardley, older brother of Nic’s Fremantle CBC schoolmate Joey, took his own life last year.
“The whole Fremantle community was really taken aback, it was a big shock and definitely hit home,” Nic said.
“Dad and I were already committed to the ride, but Kai’s suicide was extra encouragement to keep it going.”
A total of 180 Hawaiian Ride for Youth participants will travel 700km, departing either Albany or Geraldton, and stopping at a combined 23 regional high schools to discuss youth suicide and depression along the way.
Nic will share his perspective as a recent high school graduate at Denmark Senior High School.
“There this an expectation built around men to be these big strong, tough individuals – especially young men going through school where there is a lot of pressure to be good at something and to stand out,” he said.
To donate, or for more information about the event, visit www.rideforyouth.com.au.