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Olympian Clara Hughes opens up about depression at Breakfast of Champions

Jan. 29, 2013

Clara Hughes, one of Canada’s most influential athletes, will be in London on April 30 to share her struggles and triumphs off the podium as the keynote speaker at the 7th annual Breakfast of Champions.
Presented in partnership by St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Breakfast of Champions raises awareness and funds for mental health programs in the community. Hughes will talk about her battle with depression and the need to turn stigma into support. Committed to making a difference, the six-time Olympic medalist - and only Canadian athlete in history to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games -  says telling her story has been more momentous than any of her Olympic feats.

“Making my experience with depression public knowledge made me realize this sharing is perhaps more important than any of the medals I won,” says Hughes. “I am determined not to just help break down the walls of stigma built to silence this struggle but to bust them down.”

For the speed skater and cyclist, healing began when she reached out for help from a national team doctor and faced mental illness head on. Surrounded by educated and supportive individuals, she has been able to prevent depression from dragging her into darkness again. Using her voice, this remarkable athlete hopes to help others do the same and eliminate some of the fear surrounding mental illness in Canada.

“Mental illness does not discriminate, anyone can be affected,” says Michelle Campbell, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation. “Approximately one in five Canadians are affected by mental illness, Breakfast of Champions is about engaging in public dialogue to talk about this illness out in the open.”

A special feature of the event is the annual presentation of the ‘Champion of Mental Health’ awards, which honours local individuals or organizations for their contributions to mental health
care delivery or promotion. Nominations for the award can be made by visiting www.london.cmha.ca.         

“There are a lot of people within our community who are doing tremendous work when it comes to mental health care and raising awareness about mental health related issues,” says Michael Petrenko, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, London-Middlesex. “The ‘Champion of Mental Health’ awards help to recognize this; some of the best in the country are here in our midst.”

What: St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) present the 7th annual Breakfast of Champions. The event includes a buffet breakfast, the presentation of the “Champion of Mental Health” award and an inspiring keynote address by Clara Hughes.

When: April 30, 2013 from 7:30 to 9:30 am (registration opens at 7 am)

Tickets: $60 per person; $600 for a table of 10 (parking included)
Tickets can be purchased online at, sjhcfoundation.org/breakfastofchampions2013 or by calling, 519 646-6085

*Purchase tickets ONLINE before March 31, 2013, and you could win two (2) VIP tickets to a private receptions with Clara Hughes.

*A limited amount of bursary seats will be available for this event. To access a bursary seat, please contact Aleena Needham at CMHA LM, at 519 434-9191, ext 228.

Where: London Convention Centre, 300 York Street London, Ontario


For more information contact:    
Johanna Mesjarik
Communications Assistant
St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation
519 646-6085, ext. 65449

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