Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter will be the guest speaker at the Children's Treatment Centre's Bike-a-Thon Plus kickoff breakfast on May 8.
Carter, who was elected mayor in October with the support of 69 per cent of the voters in Oshawa, has characterized his political win as his biggest step in the transformation from being at rock bottom to being a role model.
Carter has shared his journey publicly on a few occasions.
After the death of his brother Michael in a motorcycle crash when Carter was 13, he began drinking. These behaviours spiralled and by his 20s Carter was homeless, illiterate and addicted to drugs and alcohol. He credits his sister Maureen with giving him the first set of tools he needed to begin submerging from the depths he'd allowed himself to fall into.
She encouraged him to go to rehab and to get counselling, offering her steady support through those days where the darkness of his illnesses and trauma started turning to light.
During counselling, Carter first disclosed he'd been sexually abused at the age of eight. He also revealed the difficulties he had reading that he'd previously masked with other behaviours and was diagnosed with dyslexia.
His continued counselling, with his sister's support, helped him manage his addiction, deal with his shame, come to terms with his brother Michael's death and improve his literacy skills.
Nine years after he got well, he lost Maureen to suicide.
Carter became a broadcaster and business owner in his 30s and was first elected as a city-regional councillor in 2014. He's recognized his role as a civic leader, now mayor, is to continue to be a passionate advocate for full access to health-care and social services for those in need, particularly those struggling with addictions, abuse and trauma.
Carter will share his experiences as part of the Bike-a-Thon Plus kickoff breakfast, the official start of the fundraising campaign that culminates with a day full of activities on May 25.
The May 25 event is the second-largest fundraiser for the Children's Treatment Centre, which provides counselling services to children of any age who've been abused. The centre supports between 180 to 200 children a year, with referrals coming from throughout Cornwall, the United Counties of SDG and Akwesasne.
There is no cost to the families whose children are accessing treatment at the centre; all of its costs are raised through the generosity of local individuals and businesses, as well as events like the Bike-a-Thon Plus. In 2018 this event raised just over $143,000 for the centre, the goal for 2019 is to surpass that amount. The centre's annual operating budget is approximately $500,000.
Events at this year's Bike-a-Thon Plus include cycling; a five-kilometre and 10-kilometre walk, a wheelchair relay; motorcycle ride; children's activities; pony rides; a tug-of-war competition between area emergency services; a motorcycle ride; bingo; and, the ceremonial walk. All activities except for the bingo - which will be held at several churches in the week leading up to the event - take place at, or start and finish at St. Lawrence College in Cornwall.
Tickets are available, please contact the Children's Treatment Centre at 613-933-4400.