Colwood’s Alf Todd said last year that it was probably the last time he would make the 190-kilometre journey from his home to Port Alberni on his bike in one day.
But the 68-year-old, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about 13 years ago, was pedaling through Duncan on Aug. 11 once again. Joined by some family members and supporters he was on his way to Port Alberni to raise awareness of the disease and money to help fund research to cure it.
This is the third year in a row he has taken the arduous journey to Port Alberni, on top of several other long-distance bike rides, including ones to Port Hardy and even San Francisco.
Todd has helped raise more than $40,000 for the cause since he began riding, and he hopes to raise at least $10,000 more on his trip on Aug. 11.
“It’s certainly a lot of kilometres to travel in one day, especially considering having to climb ‘The Hump’ just before you get to Port Alberni,” he said as the small group stopped for a quick rest in front of Experience Cycle on the Trans Canada Highway in Duncan Tuesday morning.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s my way to help other ‘Parkies’. We hope to get to Port Alberni at about 6 p.m. and then we’ll go out to eat and rent a hotel room for the night.”
Todd was originally diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement, about 13 years ago.
Symptoms, such as tremors, start gradually and can result in stiffness and slowing of overall movement.
There is no cure yet, but people who regularly exercise and have a “can-do” attitude, like Todd, can sometimes keep the worst effects of the disease at bay for years.
Wendy Murray is the facilitator for the Parkinson’s Support Group in the Cowichan Valley, and she rode with Todd and his group of supporters for some distance north of Duncan on the journey.
She also rode with him in 2017 on the bike trip between Victoria and Port Hardy that raised $24,000.
“Alf is an amazing person and these fundraisers are very important in the fight against Parkinson’s disease,” Murray said.
“Non-profit groups like the Headway Victoria Epilepsy & Parkinson’s Centre, which Alf is raising money for, are very dependent on fundraisers like this, especially this year when a lot of charities are finding it hard to raise money during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Todd had raised approximately $5,500 by Tuesday morning and he is hoping that he exceeds the $10,000 he is aiming for.
To donate, go to Canada Helps, Alf’s Ride.