Dr. Tom Kinahan and his son Daniel are aiming to raise $1M for the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF) by participating in the Peking to Paris challenge, a daring rally car experience that will see them travel tens of thousands of kilometres. 

The Kinahans want to raise funds for CMHF because of the work being done to promote men’s mental wellness in Canada. By offering tools, resources, and education, CMHF aims to improve the mental wellbeing of Canadian men. The Kinahans are particularly keen on encouraging young men to understand that discussing their challenges and reaching out for help is okay.

In 2019, a close friend of Daniel’s was diagnosed with psychosis and later admitted to a psychiatric ward. 

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to experience it firsthand,” Daniel recounted. “That experience has given me a deep compassion for anyone suffering from mental health challenges, as well as, their support system of friends and peers who are helping them through recovery.” He also shares, “I actually began seeing a counsellor at the time, which I found incredibly helpful.” 

Mental health struggles in their family and community

For Tom, one of the most difficult aspects of being a urologist is to be the bearer of bad news. “Some of my worst days are when I’ve got to tell 5 men that they’ve got cancer,” Tom said.  “We have relatives who have dealt with mental health struggles as well. It takes time and sensitivity.” 

Tom shared a story about a family he is close to in Kelowna, BC–where he resides and practices medicine–that had fallen apart due to mental health struggles. His friend, Tom Budd, lost his youngest son to suicide at the age of 13. Then 2 years later, his oldest son also took his own life at the age of 17. “Those were his only 2 children and it absolutely devastated him and the community.” 

“The world needs positive masculinity…” 

We’ve heard the term toxic masculinity a lot lately. Certain stereotypes about what it means to be a man have been reinforced by media and entertainment. 

Daniel thinks that the expectation of young men today is to be resilient in the face of all adversity. “I think that’s admirable but not achievable. And viewing this as a comparison for yourself only serves to weaken your esteem,” Daniel added. “Instead of measuring your worth against an unrealistic standard of unyielding toughness, understand that strength comes in various forms, including the courage to express your emotions and ask for support.” 

A generational divide for mental health 

The father-son pair have different ways of checking in with their mental health. 

Tom has found success through personal training. He also values social connection saying it’s “the best thing.” The 4 C’s of happiness: connection, contributing, coping and cooking, guide Tom, who’s always impressed by his son Daniel’s ability in the kitchen, adding they’ll likely be picking up plenty of exotic ingredients on their journey. 

From Daniel’s perspective he believes, “there’s been a change between generations. I see more openness today between me and my friends than I’ve seen representations of friendships through the media and culture from the past.” He goes on to say, “but I think that’s changing now, I mean just the fact that we’re doing this and I’m seeing my dad talk about it right now.”

When he’s struggling, exercise is the answer for him too. Remote work also factors in the state of his mental health, “so, making a point of reaching out and seeing friends is a huge thing for me.” 

14,000 kilometres of ambition 

As the name implies, Peking to Paris, which runs from May 18 to June 23, is a motor race that begins in Beijing, China and ends in Paris, France. One of the main requirements for the 14,000 km trek is that the vehicle must have a manufacturing date before 1976. 

“Driving an old car nearly halfway around the world with a bunch of like-minded enthusiasts, against the clock, with the added spice of timed sections, makes Peking to Paris the longest and toughest driving challenge for Vintage and Classic cars,” reads the event description from the Peking to Paris webpage. 

The trek will test the father and son duo and the 1962 Austin Cambridge A60 they’ll travel in with plenty of upkeep and maintenance along the way. Mechanical failures are a challenge they’re “least looking forward to,” according to Daniel.

“We’ve done a lot of work to prepare for different scenarios and we have a lot of parts in the car, but there are just some things that you can’t plan for.” Daniel added that it’s something they both have a “healthy amount” of anxiety about. 

Why this Canadian father and son duo are excited 

Tom and Daniel are the only Canadian team involved in the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge this year.

Accepted into the race 4 years ago, they were originally supposed to take part in in 2022. However, the global pandemic and other logistical factors make this the first race since 2019.

Stops on the race include San Marino, Istanbul and Baku, which Daniel is particularly excited about. Baku is located in Azerbaijan, and Daniel’s focus is all about the food. “They have a type of cuisine called Guba,” he said, adding that he’s excited to try it. 

Their inspiration to participate came from two brothers from Victoria, Chris and John Beresford, who took part in 2019. John’s wife Dierdre suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, and they dedicated their fundraising efforts to the Arthritis Society Canada to honour her memory. 

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