Quadriplegic man hand-cycles across Canada for a cause
Posted September 26, 2023 10:24 pm.
An Ontario man is hand-cycling across the country to raise money and buy adaptive sports equipment for people who need it.
Kevin Mills tells CityNews he learned new ways to exercise after his spinal cord injury in 2009. This year, he’s been hand cycling across Canada — he started in Newfoundland in May, and this week he stopped in Vancouver on his way to his final stop, Victoria.
“I was at my sister’s wedding and I was swimming out in the ocean in Cuba, and a big wave picked me up, dumped me headfirst in the sand, and became a quadriplegic,” he said.
Mills says the idea came from his good friend who helped him through rehab, kinesiologist Nicole Davenport, who has biked with him — sometimes more than 100 km — every day on their cross-country route.
“To know that when he was injured, he should only be able to shrug his shoulders, and now he’s using his arms to propel himself across the whole country for over 8000 km is remarkable,” she said.
“We’ve tried to establish a route and try to describe it as it would be for different levels of injury… It would be nice if there was a continuous accessible bike route across Canada that anyone could follow but there’s work to be done for sure,” Mills noted.
As they ride, the two friends are raising money for the non-profit Pedaling Possibilities, which buys adaptive sports equipment for people who need it. Davenport says that’s kept them going on the road across the country.
“He’s always willing to do it, he knows there’s a goal at stake and we have to complete it and he’s very motivating to be around,” she said.
On Tuesday Mills spoke to Grade 4 and 5 students at the Vancouver Public Library, and their teacher says she hopes he inspired them.
“He was given a diagnosis from a doctor who said you’re never going to do this, you’re never going to be able to move your own wheelchair, and he wasn’t okay with that… using small goals over a decade of time and hard work he’s now where he is today.”
In terms of Mills’ advice for everyone watching his journey, he says people should “get outside” and start going for bike rides.
“Get active in any way possible … It’ll change your life.”