Fernie resident to travel across Australia to raise awareness of schizophrenia research

Ezra Black
Elk Valley Herald Reproetr

Lucy Eykamp
Lucy Eykamp

Last April, Fernie resident Lucy Eykamp was devastated by the loss of her brother Willy.

“As a family we were at a loss how our brother could have gone from the most fun loving and adventurous youth to a withdrawn, lonely and clearly troubled adult. We were in the dark about what he was going through. Over the years we were at a loss to help; he spurned assistance and information and advice was hard to find. We felt helpless as we watched him deteriorate,” she says.

Eykamp is planning a journey across Australia to raise awareness of schizophrenia in memory of her brother who sadly took his own life last April after a battle with mental illness.

In May, Eykamp will be traveling from Brisbane to Tamworth in Australia by foot, bicycle and horseback, a distance of 730 kilometers, in 9 days. The journey is equivalent to 17 marathons or the distance from Calgary to Fort McMurray.

All funds raised by the journey are being donated to the Australian Schizophrenia Research Institute and the Schizophrenia Society of Canada.

Eykamp says her brother loved to travel. On two occasions he made the same trip Lucy will be making on horseback. She says he would often camp along the road. He also enjoyed endurance activities, something the siblings share in common.

She says the negative stigma surrounding schizophrenia and limited funding exacerbated her brother’s condition and left him isolated.

“In the end the despair of his isolation and loneliness and realization of his bleak future lead him to end his pain,” she says.

Eykamp says she’s been training for the event all winter, going to the gym, skiing and running with snow shoes. She has several long days planned, including a ski traverse of the Wapta Icefields.

She says her boyfriend Bob Maudie, her friends and family have been supporting her and will be joining her for sections of the trip. Australian volunteers have offered their homes to accommodate her.

“Sadly, one percent of the population is genetically pre-disposed to getting this illness and the negative stigma is so strong that I hope to remove some of this stigma even in a small way by doing this challenge,” says Eykamp.

Schizophrenia can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is no known cure but symptoms can be controlled using medication. According to the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, about 5 percent of schizophrenics commit suicide.

Funds for Eykamp’s journey can be donated online.

Please help Lucy Eykamp raise awareness for mental illness as she runs/bikes 730km from Brisbane to Tamworth (Aus) in 9 days; like doing 17 marathons; in memory of her brother Will who sadly took his own life. All funds donated to Schizophrenia research.

Will Eykamp’s Memorial Run/Bike Challenge

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Your mental illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does.