I'm happy to tell you that my 2022 Exploring Nova Scotia calendar draft is ready for printing in the fall with the majority of the profits going to the Cycleability Challenge. What is the Cycleability Challenge? You can read about it in my previous post below on this blog. I will announce pricing soon on the calendars, but if you aren't interested in a calendar, you can go to https://iwkfoundation.org/cycleability-challenge to donate directly. As things open up and Joe and I get to full immunity from two doses of vaccine, we will get together to see how we can move this project forward after being sidelined by COVID.
Over the last number of years, I have learned first hand about giving back to the community through my work with Rotary. During this time, I continued to bicycle and my passion flourished. As time wore on, I found that I might not be able to continue with Rotary, work on my business, have the free time that I want at this stage in my life. It became a question of capacity and how I would spend my time. Simultaneously, I began to think about combining my fun with photography and bicycling as ways to give back. In 2020, I created a calendar of my Nova Scotia photos and while only a small print run, it generated $445 to go to my first bicycle Ride for Cancer. In late March and early April 2020, COVID shone a bright light on what I was doing and it became apparent that I needed to leave Rotary sooner than I was planning. It was a challenging decision as Rotary is an amazing organization. I miss my fellow club members. They are amazing and like minded people. Not only was I thinking of bicycle fundraisers, but I had also seen adaptive bicycles that could be used for seniors to get an outing with someone who was willing to pedal the bike they were riding on; and also for children who otherwise would not be able to ride. One project that caught my attention a number of years ago was the CycleAbility Challenge. Joe Robichaud created this project. He decided he would ride his hand cycle from Yarmouth to Sydney to raise money for the IWK Hospital adaptive bike program through their Recreation Therapy Department. They would use the funds to help with bikes purchases for children whose families might need some financial assistance. It turns out that Joe’s event did not happen. Still, he continued to have a Facebook page and a website developed for him by the IWK for this project. So I did some checking and the CycleAbility Challenge was still a real entity and the folks at the IWK thought very highly of him. Even though he couldn't do a ride, I learned from his Facebook page that some funds had been raised to buy a couple of adaptive bikes.
It was now time to meet Joe. I first spoke to him by phone in January 2021. He told me his story. He had wanted to do the CycleAbility Challenge in 2018 and everything was lined up. But then he was sidelined with some health issues. As these were getting resolved enough to get on the bike again, COVID hit and his project had to be a bit on the backburner. But he did not lose sight of his goal of doing the challenge.
I learned from Joe that at age twelve he lost a leg due to Osteosarcoma, the same cancer that Terry Fox had. One of the things that devastated him was that he would no longer ride a bike. Several years ago, Joe acquired a hand cycle bike and for the first time in over 50 years, he was on a bike again. The CycleAbility Challenge was born out of that desire to give children that same thrill of riding a bike. Remember how you felt when you first learned to ride?
When I contacted Joe, he was ready to roll again (pun intended) and was impatiently waiting for spring. But how could he push things forward during a time when gatherings and larger events where one would normally showcase such a project were not permitted. After a few phone and text conversations, we met at a Starbucks in March 2021. I’d say we hit it off. His story is remarkable and needs to get out there. I don’t know how I can help him, but he and I are hoping to consider some ideas to try to get things going again.In the meantime, Joe and I met for our first ride on April 15th. He clearly enjoyed being mobile on his handcycle bike and getting to places without mobility aids except for the bike and just like everyone else. I was able to see how his bike moves, and it can really move. Over the years, Joe has built tremendous strength in his upper body.
Below is a pic from that first ride. I’m looking forward to seeing Joe soon.