When a friend breaks her leg, you expect her to rest, take pain medication, and follow her doctor's orders to help her heal. You know a cast will soon follow, protecting the set bone from movement that would hinder proper healing.

When a friend struggles with mental illness, the same needs for healing are there, but they lie below the surface, inside the mind and heart of the person wrestling with struggles and challenges that can't be seen.  

This weekend marks three years since a tough journey began in the life of motivator Fawn R., which is why this Saturday's Understand Us x WHCC ride is such an important event for her.  Three years ago, Fawn's grandma suddenly passed... "I still remember everything about that day. I refused to let myself grieve. I threw myself into school and work until I finally could not handle my own life anymore. I remember this was the first time I thought about just ceasing to exist. I remember day dreaming about all the ways I wish that I had just never happened and that way my family and friends wouldn't be sad if I were gone." 

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Mental health is often hidden. Fawn is quick to open up about her involvement with Understand Us, which came through a supportive friendship when she needed it for her healing journey: "I got involved with Understand Us through Jim when we worked at Earls together. I always admired him for running a restaurant and doing all that, that entails, as well as running a mental health initiative. Jim has a knack for always asking TOUGH questions like they're not tough questions and would listen to your answers without judgment. It was challenging for someone like me who didn't know how to deal with the tough stuff.

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Riding at Wheelhouse has also been part of Fawn's healing journey: "I remember walking into Wheelhouse feeling down and sad, and then leaving class like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Every class I got a little lighter mentally. The physical activity just took all that heavy stuff away from me, and I slowly was able to internalize and empty the compartments of sadness and grief that I had tucked away because I was literally not only unable, but unaware of how to deal with it and overcome it."

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Through supportive friends, a moving body, and a lot of processing along the way, "I began to realize that things that happen to you throughout life... It's all just stuff that only defines you if you let it. What defines you is how you choose to react and heal yourself - it's taking responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings and soul, calling it your own, and taking that pride and turning into a healthier/stronger you that has just overcome a challenge. I think this can only happen once you come to terms with yourself and who you really are through being vulnerable."


It's incredibly challenging to be vulnerable.  But that's just what Fawn and Jim know we can do to help ourselves and each other.  Fawn is excited to be able to support her friend in his work with Understand Us: "Jim is doing something really great in the community, so I wanted to have this ride for UU so that we could spread the word about what they do, and also raise some money!"

Here's what you need to know:

Saturday, October 7 WHCC East

9:30 - Understand Us Pop-Up Shop (new swag in tow!)

11:30 - WHCC Ride Feat. Fawn R. (currently full, but room on the waitlist!)

The ride is FREE, but a $15 donation for Understand Us is part of the deal!

Everyone is welcome to come by to check out the pop-up shop, hang out, learn about Understand Us, pet some visiting pooches, and be a part of the greater community in our city.

None of us are alone. The UU X WHCC event is a reminder of this. Come be supported, be in community, and get to know the Understand Us crew and the great things they're doing in the city.  There's no judgment for anyone... just an invitation.  See you there!



Understand Us is a volunteer initiative that combats the stigma of mental health. This local community organization, co-founded by Jim Demeray and Thomas Le, is purposed to educate youth; unify supporters and bring awareness through clothing and apparel sales; and be involved in community events around YQR.