The Edmond Sun

April 26, 2013

Australian duo ride cross country for depression awareness

Tandem bicyclists make stop at Edmond school

By Kristine Meggenberg
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Two Australian blokes have come to America to raise awareness for depression disorder by riding a tandem bike from California to New York. They made a stop Friday morning at Sequoyah Middle School to talk to students about the effects of depression.

Jarad Pocott and Connor Pettersson, both 23 years old, are from Sydney, Australia, and have been best mates since the age of 10. Pocott's mother and older brother are affected by depression.

“My mom suffered from depression from when I was a kid from 10 until 15. She is better now because of help and support from professionals, family and friends,” Pocott said. “There seems to be a negative stigmatism with admitting depression or they’re embarrassed but if you have a cold wouldn't you go to the doctor? Same thing.”

Pettersson read Jim Stynes’ book, “My Journey,” by a pool in a private villa with maids on hand with his only worry being the perfect surf. But when he finished Stynes’ book he felt embarrassed. In Stynes 45 years he was a famous soccer player who played 244 games in a row though injuries and against adversity but outside of soccer he had won Australian of the Year for his tireless work establishing Reach, a program aiding young people to be their best possible self.

“It made me really think about what 2013 holds for myself. I can travel, surf and party or try and do something meaningful that can hopefully inspire others to be the best they can be, like Jim would of done,” Pettersson said. “I thought a lot about my friends and family. Some have gone through some really dark days, struggling with depression and feeling so alone. I decided I needed to raise awareness for depression and as much money as possible for a charity involved in depression (advocacy).”

The charity that Pettersson and Pocott are raising money for is the Black Dog Institute, whose research is used worldwide to fight depression.

At Sequoyah Middle School they did a Q-and-A with Jason Mackey’s seventh-grade geography class, where they revealed their favorite American restaurant is Denny’s.

Aside from raising money for charity, the main thing they want to accomplish is asking people if they are OK. They flew to Los Angeles, bought a bike and began their journey April 7. They hope to reach New York City by the end of May because they have a flight to London on June 5. They are glad to be out of the dessert but were unaware it is tornado season in Oklahoma. Currently they are ahead of schedule, but depending on the weather they will travel between four to eight hours a day, hoping to cover 60 miles a day.

They plan to leave Edmond this weekend along Route 66. If you are along their route from Edmond to New York they would greatly appreciate any support you can provide. To contact them or make a donations, visit their website at twoblokesonabike.com.