Feature Story Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Over the Hills and Far Away
Super senior sets sights on Ten Bikes for Ten Kids in 28 days
John Wiches is almost 80 and he's riding a loaded bicycle from Langley to Winnipeg for handicapped kids. Below, outside the historic Royal Hotel.
hese days, people do cross-country jaunts for all kinds of reasons. But none are more dignified than raising money for kids, or in this case, to buy ten specially-designed assisted bicycles for handicapped Winnipeg children.
That's what retiree John Wiches, 78, is doing. The former CEO and ex-marathon runner's trip of a lifetime isn't on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. His is on the back of a bicycle for an epic journey from the Fraser Valley to Winnipeg ó a magnanimous trip even for seasoned riders half his age.
Heís always been a competitive marathon runner. But this time itís different for him. Heís on the back of a hybrid lama.
The plan is to raise $30,000 for the ten bikes in 28 days. Wiches left Langley fully-loaded early on June 12.
So to be as creative as possible in his fundraising effort, almost every part of his bike is sponsored from the frame to the seat.
The Voice caught up with Wichers at the Royal Hotel where he was staying for the first night on the road.
Wiches says the tour a bit of a rough start in Langley when he got the wrong directions from a gas bar attendant which added hours and miles to the day.
The tall lanky man shugs it off with a smile. He's already visualizing Hope, 53 kilometers away. Then Rogers Pass and the nice gentle ride-out on the eastern slopes of the Rockies from Lake Louise to Calgary. From there, he'll before push through to Medicine Hat where he'll be meeting his wife for the escort home.
He says his wife cried when she found out he was going and their kids were shocked.
"They just rolled their eyes," chortles Wiches.
But he's got their support and the backing of the Foundation.
It's going to take work on his hybrid bicycle. He knows it. But, he figures the mental training he got from endurance running will be the kick that he needs to get him up and over the Rocky Mountains, then through the prairies.
"That's when this takes over," he says pointing at his head.
When Wiches came to Canada from Holland in the early 1950s, he went straight to Winnipeg and never left. He's taken home 125 prestigious medals and awards over the years running 25 marathons and 82 half-marathons. But by far, this is his biggest challenge.
"My wife doesn't have any more room on the walls for them," he quipped.
Over the decades, Wiches has helped countless kids through his work with groups and agencies such as the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation.
Currently, heís at whopping $18,000, however he needs at least $8000 more by August 4 to meet his goal. If you want to support what Wiches is doing, he says he'll gladly accept donations through the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation.
Donations to support Johns Excellent Bike Adventure can be made online here. Amounts over $15 will get a tax receipt and will go directly to purchasing bikes for kids.
Donations can also be made in person at the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation office at 611 Wellington Crescent, Monday to Friday, between 9am and 4pm. We accept cash, cheque, debit, Amex, MC, and Visa.
Did you see John on the road? You can post your photos at #tenbikestenkids on Twitter.
About the Foundation
The Childrenís Rehabilitation Foundation is a Manitoba charity, dedicated to helping children with disabilities and special needs be as independent as possible. We are the fund raising arm for the Rehabilitation Centre for Children (RCC). The Centre is an outpatient facility providing rehabilitation services and specialized health clinics for children and youth who live with life-long conditions. Every year, over 22,000 visits are made to RCC. For more information about RCC, click here.
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