Ocean dip marks end of in­cred­i­ble jour­ney

Four cy­clists cross Canada to raise funds and aware­ness for HIV

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID JALA

Two months af­ter de­part­ing Van­cou­ver, four young Cana­dian bi­cy­clists ar­rived in Glace Bay where they cel­e­brated their cross­coun­try ride with a dip in the At­lantic Ocean.

For Chris Davidge, the end of the 6,700-km jour­ney rep­re­sented more than just the com­ple­tion of an ex­cel­lent ad­ven­ture with three friends.

“I worked at schools and or­phan­ages in Kenya and when I learned that as many as 90 per cent of the kids there were in­fected with HIV I was just heart­bro­ken — I wanted to do some­thing to help make things bet­ter,” said the 20-year-old stu­dent, who prior to at­tend­ing the Univer­sity of Western On­tario had spent part of his gap year volunteering in Africa.

Af­ter re­turn­ing to Canada, Davidge came up with the idea of cy­cling from coast to coast as a way to raise both funds and aware­ness for AIDS re­search.

Be­fore long, two of his friends from univer­sity and another buddy from back home com­mit­ted to join­ing the Stony Plain, Al­berta, na­tive on the ride.

The four also part­nered up with the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion for AIDS Re­search (CANFAR) and the ride re­ceived a name — Cy­cle 4 CANFAR.

Davidge said they started out with the goal of rais­ing $10,000 for HIV and AIDS re­search, but by the end of the jour­ney they had al­ready raised more than $33,000.

“We’re re­ally pleased about that — it is a big prob­lem around the word, even here in Canada where there are more than 71,000 peo­ple liv­ing with HIV,” he said.

Although they ad­mit they could have used a bit more train­ing be­fore the ride, the four friends agreed it was an epic, char­ac­ter-build­ing trip of a life­time.

“We mostly camped out ev­ery night and pre­pared our own food,” said Yanir Levy, an Is­raeli­born, On­tario-raised stu­dent at Western.

“We had lots of ad­ven­tures and we made it and we’re all do­ing just fine.”

The group, that also in­cluded Tommy Spriet and Neil Sch­mitke, were met at the Bay­plex fin­ish line by a crowd of peo­ple that in­cluded both Davidge’s and Spriet’s par­ents.

“It’s amaz­ing and we’re re­ally proud of all of them — they did it for a great cuase and had a great ad­ven­ture and from what I hear they re­ceived lots of sup­port all along the way,” said Davidge’s mom, Sandy.

Af­ter break­ing through the fin­ish­ing line rib­bon and cel­e­brat­ing with some cham­pagne, the four­some were led by lo­cal cy­clist Bill Smith down to the edge of the wa­ter where they jumped into the At­lantic Ocean, 57 days af­ter bid­ding farewell to the West Coast in a brief cer­e­mony in Van­cou­ver’s Stan­ley Park.

When asked how it felt to re­al­ize their dream the four cy- clists didn’t hes­i­tate as they shouted “un­be­liev­able” in uni­son.

As for their next ad­ven­ture, Davidge said he’s lean­ing to­ward a kayak trip through the Grand Canyon.



Four friends cel­e­brated the end of their coast-to-coast ride with a dip in the At­lantic Ocean on Satur­day in Glace Bay. From left, Yanir Levy, Tommy Spreit, Neil Sch­mitke and Chris Davidge com­pleted the 6,700-km ride in 57 days to raise funds and aware­ness for HIV and AIDS re­search.

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