Brent Allchorn, 39-year-old father of four, cycled into Coonabarabran on Tuesday, 7 June, on his 4564 kilometre trip from Queensland to Western Australia to raise awareness about mental illness.
A sufferer of Type 2 Bipolar, Mr Allchorn has had a violent and sad life. Growing up in a broken home, he suffered both physical and sexual abuse, and experienced life in the foster care system, boys’ homes and prison.
“My education never went past Year 8 and the only world I knew was the streets,” Mr Allchorn said.
“I committed crimes to survive and ran with gangs for the feeling of family and brotherhood which I hadn’t had at home. I later joined Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs and was eventually convicted of importing drugs and was subsequently sentenced to six years in prison.
“During this time I battled severe depression and suicide was an ever-present thought in my mind.”
Mr Allchorn said the idea of HeavyHiterz, which aims to develop programs and support strategies for those living with mental illness, came to him while he was serving time in prison, following the deaths of two inmates who committed suicide while in segregation.
“It was clear these individuals felt there was nothing to live for, something which resonated strongly with me as I had felt that way many times,” Mr Allchorn said.
“Following these incidents I decided that something had to be done to help people living with mental illness so they never felt inclined to pay the ultimate price.
“Upon my release, while out cycling one day and looking for inspiration, I realised that life can hit heavy at times and the only way out is to find your inner strength and fight...become a heavy hitter! On that trip, HeavyHiterz was born!”
Now two years old, Heavy Hiterz has come a long way in a short time.
“We have started to break the stigma attached to mental illness by creating a family of people who have experienced mental illness themselves or have lived with someone who has a mental illness,” Mr Allchorn said.
“Through online discussions and community forums, we have engaged those living with mental illness and provided them with support, understanding and a platform for them to talk about their struggles and not be judged.
“As we grow, Heavy Hiterz aims to develop programs and support strategies for those living with mental illness, and their families, while continuing to evolve as a forum for people to help one another.
“We aim to be proactive by engaging teenagers through high school programs and letting them know that there are people there for them. The overriding theme to our growth is to let the world know - you are not alone.
“This ride will put Heavy Hiterz on the map and, in doing so, create the exposure we need to assist in building a sustainable organisation that changes and saves lives.”
Brent (standing, right) and Justin (sitting), of Heavy Hiterz, met with local residents Linda Stewart, Daniel Needham, Michelle Brady, Kodi Brady, Joyce Stewart, Peter Shinton and Caitlyn Morrissey during their stopover in Coonabarabran.