Six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes in Stephenville with Big Bike Ride

Frank Gale
Published on March 8, 2014
Annika Benoit-Jansson is looking forward to meeting Olympian Clara Hughes when she visits Stephenville on her Clara’s Big Ride tour across Canada.

Star photo by Frank Gale

Annika Benoit-Jansson is looking for inspiration from Clara Hughes when the six-time Olympic medalist visits Stephenville on Clara’s Big Bike Ride on April 19.

Hughes won her medals in cycling and speed skating, but is now hitting the road for a cross-country ride for mental health.

Benoit-Jansson said Hughes inspires her because she is very brave by being open to the world about her mental health struggles.

“I know the bike ride she will be doing because last year I did a cross-Canada bike ride with two friends from Victoria to St. John’s," she said.

She said they raised money for, which is an online youth crisis line.

Benoit-Jansson said she is well aware of how gruelling the ride can be and how much mental preparation it takes.

“She (Hughes) is pretty incredible for taking up so much of her time to get people talking and start the conversation about the importance of breaking down the stigma and stereotypes associated with mental health,” she said.

To her, Hughes is an inspiration because she shows you can still accomplish your dreams and live a fulfilling life even with mental health struggles.

“I have mental health struggles myself and having people brave enough to have that conversation in front of everyone is a great motivation to me to make sure I’m taking care of my mental health and continuing to grow,” Benoit-Jansson said.

She said it gives hope there are still opportunities to accomplish great things during the times when things feel tough.

Benoit-Jansson joined a committee that is planning to host an event during Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk visit to Stephenville. Consumers Health Awareness Newfoundland and Labrador (CHANNAL) is the primary organizer, working with community partners to put off the Easter Kitchen Party event.

Hughes will actually be stopping in Stephenville, Corner Brook and Springdale during April as part of Clara’s Big Ride for mental health.

You can visit for a full schedule as well as all the details on the cross-Canada tour.

While in the area, in addition to the kitchen party event, Hughes will take part in a youth event at the College of the North Atlantic in Stephenville on April 19, a Gala dinner and youth event at the West Rock Community Centre in Corner Brook on the 21 and 22, before heading to Springdale where she will take part in a welcome event and a youth event at the IceCap Youth Centre.

In Stephenville the Easter kitchen party event will include mini-Olympics games and an Easter Egg Hunt for young people, information booths relating to mental health, the traditional kitchen party with food and non-alcoholic refreshments and Hughes speaking of her experiences with mental health.

These activities, which take place at the Lions Club on Woodland Drive in Stephenville and run from 6 to 9 p.m., are all free of charge and it’s all being promoted as a family event.