It’s not every day one gets to travel across the country — from Victoria to the tip of Nova Scotia — let alone on a bike.
But that’s exactly what Kane Mercer did, to draw attention to the need for support of hospice palliative care. Mercer’s ‘Ride for Rand’ was in honour of his father Randy, who passed away from cancer in Victoria Hospice five years ago.
Mercer kicked off his adventure from Gonzales Beach in May, arriving in New Glasgow, N.S. last month. With so many charities and organizations assisting cancer research, Mercer wanted to raise money for hospice, a place he could make a difference with his efforts.
“It was a cathartic experience for me, for sure,” he said. “Personally I feel a lot healthier. It helped me to get over some of the difficulties [of] the loss of my dad.”
While Mercer was cycling through the mountains of Alberta and the plains of Saskatchewan, staff at Victoria Hospice came across the story of Ian Bos. Two years prior, the New Glasgow man walked across the country – from his hometown to Victoria – in honour of his own father’s battle with cancer. That knowledge inspired Mercer to re-route his trip to finish at the Aberdeen Palliative Care Society, where he met Bos.
For University of Victoria grad Mercer, visiting Northern Ontario, the Bay of Fundy and P.E.I. were just some of the highlights of his first cross-country trip. “There were a lot of storms [along] the way,” he said. Mercer rode through rain in each of the 10 provinces. “But, it was great seeing the skies and the clouds coming in and the shifting weather.”
Mercer documented the whole adventure on a Go Pro strapped to his helmet and on his blog.
“I’ve always had a real faith in humanity,” he said. “It just reaffirms it, to go across to see coast to coast how nice and how supportive people were.”
A family in Radium Hot Springs whom Mercer chatted with one afternoon later found themselves in the same restaurant. They quietly paid his tab before Mercer could even say thank you.
Mercer’s mother, Cheryl, and brother, Aaron, joined hospice staff and volunteers on Wednesday to welcome him home as he rode in on his bike in front of Richmond Pavilion, 106 days after he began his journey.
“The care and the support that our father received here,” Aaron said of the hospice, “this is really to honour them.”
Mercer plans to volunteer at Victoria Hospice, to support what he feels is a chronically underfunded and neglected area of care.
And, returning phone calls, he laughed. “Student loans are calling.”