South Africa. Australia. The United States. Germany. Czech Republic. Italy. Spain. And of course, Canada.
Over the past few months, Haley Hunter Smith has gotten to visit some of the most incredible and beautiful spots in all of these countries. However, her approach is different from that of a tourist. As a member of Canada’s National Mountain Bike Team and the Norco Factory Team, Haley explores these countries by racing through rugged terrain on her mountain bike. While many people would be intimidated by the difficult courses Haley has faced in her career, she would tell you that mountain biking has brought her strength and vitality in a time when she needed it most.
Haley Smith is a recipient of our 2017 Athletes in Excellence Award. As someone who is closely familiar with mental health struggles, she has become an advocate and mentor to others who find themselves battling eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. Throughout her youth Haley struggled with anxiety, and in high school this developed into a severe case of anorexia nervosa. Within one year of the disorder’s onset, Haley had lost 30 pounds and was at risk of heart failure. With strong support from her family and medical intervention, Haley recovered her health and began to learn coping strategies for her anxiety. The support of her family, friends, teammates, and coach have helped her along the difficult and long road of recovery, and Haley knows that other people need that same kind of support.
Haley’s approach to helping others who struggle with mental wellness is to first share her story. Knowing that you are not alone in your struggle and removing the stigma of mental health issues is paramount to receiving the help you need. Secondly, she serves as an ambassador with Cam’s Kids Foundation, a non-profit focused on providing support to young people struggling with anxiety. As an ambassador, Haley promotes awareness at high schools, universities, colleges, and community centers.
In addition to her volunteer work with Cam’s Kids, Haley is also an ambassador for Fast and Female. This organization pursues a mission of keeping girls healthy, happy, and active in sports through their teens by introducing them to athlete role models, like Haley. Across North America, the ambassadors of Fast and Female participate in Champ Chats and Summits to engage girls in activities and interactive sessions talking about sports.
Currently, Haley is riding the mountain bike racing World Cup circuit around the world! Follow her adventures and leave her a word of encouragement on her Instagram @haleyhuntersmith or on Twitter @hale_smith.
We’re cheering you on, Haley! You can watch Haley’s award acceptance video below.
P.S. We are accepting nominations for the 2018 Athletes in Excellence Award, now through September 14th! Read our nomination guidelines here.