Cyclist pedals across Canada to help conquer cancer

The West Coast provided a solid launching ground for an inspirational Canada-wide bike ride last week.

Ontario’s Troy Dowhaniuk arrived in Tofino on May 29 and took a few days to enjoy his first West Coast experience before setting off on a cross-country bike ride to raise funds for Canada’s combat against cancer.

His coast-to-coast pursuit is a fundraiser for the SickKids Hospital in Toronto, a hospital he touts as “the biggest and most advanced pediatric Cancer care centre in Canada” and a key part of the Children’s Miracle Network.

“They help out different hospitals all across the country when it comes to pediatric care,” he said of SickKids. “They’re saving thousands of children’s’ lives every year.”

Dowhaniuk pedaled out of Ucluelet on June 1 and hopes to raise $50,000 by the time he arrives at his final destination in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

 â€œIf you do the math, I really only have to meet 1,000 people who are willing to part with $50 in order to reach the goal,” he said. “I should be able to meet 1,000 people throughout the course of the entire country.”

He estimated his experience would take roughly 120 days but said he’s in no hurry to cross the finish line.

 â€œThe route that I’m taking can be done in roughly 72 days, the reason I’m taking 120 days is to maximize my chances of raising the whole $50,000,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter how many days I do it in as long as I don’t feel I’ve rushed my way through. It’s a once in a lifetime trip; it’s not like I’m going to pack my bags and do it again next year.”

He plans to meet and greet with as many people as he can along his way and hopes to see interest in his cause cascade through social media as he travels from town to town.

 â€œI’m hoping that it turns a bit into the ball from Indiana Jones where it builds up momentum,” he said.

Dowhaniuk, a 30 year-old hospitality worker, experienced his trip’s ‘eureka moment’ while enjoying the beauty of his own surroundings in the Muskoka region of Ontario.

“I was sitting there one day looking out at the lake and thinking, ‘I’m really fortunate to be where I am in my life,’” he said.

“I’ve come to a great place, and I have a lot of great people around me, and it occurred to me that the people that I wanted to try and help were people that were having the ability to make their choices and grow up to become great people taken away at a young age.”

Anyone interested in following Dowhaniuk’s journey or donating to his cause is encouraged to visit his website at www.projectsthatmatter.ca.

All donations are tax-deductible. 

Dowhaniuk said his first personal experience with cancer came in 2013 when his dog Kaos, a German Rottweiler who he had raised from a puppy, was diagnosed and passed away when she was 10 years old. 

“It was the first time I ever saw the disease face to face,” he said.

“That was the first time I’d ever seen the face of cancer; you see it on TV, you read about it in the newspaper, and friends talk about it, but it never really hit home until I saw it face to face.”

Dowhaniuk has been cycling his entire life but had never set out on a journey of this magnitude before and said he was both nervous and excited to get going.

 â€œI’ve never done anything to this degree that’s for sure,” he said.

 â€œIt’s a journey that I’ve never taken on before, it’s not something I’ve ever even tried…There’s a little bit of nerves and there’s a little bit of lack of sleep, because the brain just won’t shut off sometimes, but then I’m also just totally excited.”

He was stoked to start his journey on the welcoming West Coast where he was offered discounted lodgings at Tofino’s Jamie’s Rainforest Inn and Ucluelet’s Pacific Rim Motel and was taken on a tour of Hot Springs Cove by The Whale Centre in Tofino.

 â€œThe area’s been very welcoming in allowing me the opportunity to experience it and making me feel like a local,” he said.

 â€œEveryone I’ve met so far has just been amazing…I want to come back here when I’m done the trip.”

 

Andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca