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Walter Reich, 70, is cycling across Canada to raise money for Parkinson’s disease, a decision that was inspired after he took part in Pedalling for Parkinson’s in Parry Sound.
“Everybody raises money for cancer but Parkinson’s affects so many people around the world and it isn’t talked about as often,” said Reich.
A cycling enthusiast, Reich cycled in his home country of Switzerland when he was younger. He and his wife Regula moved to Magnetawan in 1982 to run the Quiet Bay Motel. In recent years he became involved with Almaguin in Motion, a cycling committee working to increase the activity in the area. Planning for his cross-country trip began more than two years ago—one of the final steps was to retire and sell their business earlier this year.
Reich began his ride on April 12 in Tofino, BC, 39 years to the day after Terry Fox began his cross-country run in 1980. His wife is following and supporting the ride their RV, where they are currently living in order to explore more of the country.
Sylvia Stark, a family friend, has been organizing Walter’s donation pages, social media, and appearances, including meet and greets at Home Hardware locations across the country to give community members the opportunity to chat with Walter, wish him well, and share their experiences with Parkinson’s disease.
“Parkinson’s is a disease that isn’t talked about very much,” said Stark. “Walter wants to hear about people’s stories and connections to the disease because ultimately this ride is for them.”
Reich arrived in Huntsville on June 19 after cycling more than 5,000 kilometres, and stopped in at the Home Hardware on Cann Street to talk with people about his journey. He invites other cyclists to join him along the way as he misses the company.
Despite the distance he’s travelled so far, he’s had few mishaps: his only flat tire happened on his way into Parry Sound. Cycling through BC has been his favourite part of the trip so far because the mountains reminded him of Switzerland; the hardest was the prairies because of the severe wind.
Reich still has several thousand kilometres to go. He plans to take a short break in August to visit family in Switzerland. His ride will end in St John’s, NFLD, hopefully before winter sets in this year.
And he’s been raising funds along the way—donations to a GoFundMe account combined with cash donations have totalled $4,000 so far. His goal is to have raised $50,000 by the time he reaches St. John’s.
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