Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/5/2019 (382 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It was Walter Reich’s dream to bike across Canada after he retired from owning a motel in rural Ontario. But he didn’t just want to do it for himself. Reich thought he could use the opportunity to help people in need.
Starting in Tofino, B.C., the 70-year-old Reich has reached Brandon as he crosses the country raising money for Parkinson’s disease.
"About two years ago, I thought ‘I want to take my bike and go across Canada," Walter told The Sun. "See if I can make it," he added with a smile.
Reich and his wife Regula are originally from Switzerland, near Lake Constance. They moved to Canada in 1995. Now they’re getting a chance to explore their second country. The Reichs plan on hitting every province as they go eastward toward St. John’s, N.L.
Walter estimates that he has been travelling approximately 100 kilometers per day. Regula drives their motorhome ahead and occasionally rides back to meet Walter on her own bike.
"We wanted to see Canada and it’s just beautiful," Regula said. "It’s so impressive to see all the different (landscapes) and the mountains."
When looking for a cause to champion during Walter’s trip, the couple figured that prominent diseases like cancer had a lot of champions already. So they decided to raise money for Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative nervous system disorder that has affected public figures like Alan Alda, the late Muhammad Ali and Canada’s own Michael J. Fox. Regula had two uncles that had Parkinson’s.
"We met so many people on the way from Tofino with Parkinson’s and they’re ... all cheerful and happy, keeping active," Walter said. "I never have seen a person that was really down with Parkinson’s."
April was chosen as the starting month for the trip because it is recognized as Parkinson’s disease awareness month. Concerned about how the money they raised would be spent, the Reichs have decided to donate the money they raise directly to groups and facilities working directly with people with Parkinson’s disease. Their first beneficiary will be IMPACT Parkinson’s Centre in New Westminster, B.C.
Though most of the Reichs’ family still lives in Switzerland, they were able to connect with Walter’s nephew in Brandon.
Just over two months into their trip, the pair have raised approximately $1,500, which is less than they’d like. Their goal is to raise at least $50,000 by the end. If you see Walter on his bright green-and-black bicycle, you can donate to him directly or you can donate to his crowdfunding campaign at gofundme.com/walter-and-giant.
Regula said that Walter would appreciate it if anyone came to ride their bikes along the highway with him. The pair are leaving eastward out of Brandon this morning.
Walter believes he’ll finish his trip by October.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark