Colwood’s David Cox braved the hot weather early this month to ride his bicycle up the Island to Port Hardy then back down to Victoria and home to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
The 1,000-kilometre solo journey is Cox’s third for the organization, which funds research and care for people living with MS. One of those people is Cox’s niece, Leslie, who was diagnosed in her 30s and now depends entirely on a wheelchair for her mobility.
“At the beginning, she was told by her neurologist, ‘You’re fine, you’re walking. Come see me in six months,’” said Cox. “Six months later, she was in [the intensive care unit], then in a wheelchair. It really opened my eyes to the effects of disabilities.”
MS is an incurable neurological disease that can affect vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. It is most often diagnosed in young adults, and Canada has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world.
Already an avid cycler when his niece was diagnosed, Cox began pouring his energy into fundraising rides for the MS Society. When he moved to the Island from Ontario in 2005, he continued riding in the society’s fundraisers and a few years later, Cox began organizing longer rides of his own. This was his third solo journey in support of the MS Society.
“The hardest part is the hills. The mental part, the ‘gotta keep going’ is not so bad,” said Cox, who carries all of his own gear and food and camps along the way on the week-long trip. His bicycle weighs 28 pounds and his gear about another 45.
The only thing Cox must get along the way is water — and lots of it. He sips an electrolyte and water solution throughout the day to stay hydrated and snacks regularly, but he has to be careful not to overindulge while on the road. Averaging about 121 kilometres per day, the ride can at times be gruelling, said Cox, but he hopes that by putting his all into it, he’ll inspire people to donate.
“It makes you realize just how fortunate we really are. We have full faculties, we have mobility; we should do something for other people.”
Cox stopped in Ladysmith on the first day of his ride, June 28. Immediately following his solo trip, he joined friends and colleagues for the July 6-7 MS South and Central Vancouver Island 160-kilometre ride to raise even more money.
As of July 15, Cox had raised $5,360. Every penny goes to the MS Society; Cox absorbs any costs associated with the ride.