Edmonton father, son complete cross-country ride to raise MS awareness
Published Sunday, August 19, 2012 5:26PM MDT
Last Updated Sunday, August 19, 2012 7:14PM MDT
It was a ride that took them across the country raising money and awareness for multiple sclerosis and on Sunday, an Edmonton police constable and his dad rode back into Edmonton: mission accomplished.
Covering almost 12,000 kilometres in 34 days, Const. Chris Anderson and his dad Dave, a retired Edmonton Police officer, returned home after a cross-country trip to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis.
Anderson’s sister Erin was diagnosed with MS last year and it was her battle with the disease that inspired the pair to take on the challenge.
“It was incredible. It went by really fast,” Anderson said.
“I thought that when I looked at how many days were going to be on the road, I thought I’d be out there forever but it just went by just like that. I can’t believe we’re home already. It was excellent. We met a lot of good people along the way and a lot of people who are suffering from MS. We raised a lot of money and a lot of awareness.”
Anderson wrote a daily blog throughout the course of the ride – complete with pictures from their trip that started in St. John’s Newfoundland.
They stopped in major cities from coast to coast and met with local MS societies.
“It was interesting to see and hear everyone’s stories because the disease is so different with how it affects people,” Anderson said.
“We met a lot of people along the way and it was just a great eye-opener and a great experience. When something like that happens to your family you think you’re the only one but there are lots of people. A lot of people remain quiet about it and a lot of people don’t talk about it so our goal, or part of the goal my son had, was to raise awareness and I think he did a great job,” Dave said.
Erin, who is also a police officer, was well enough to join her family for the final leg of the trip and said she’s touched by what her brother has done.
“I’m obviously very proud. It’s touching,” she said. “I can’t believe the money that he’s raised and the people that he’s connected with and just the education that people have received out of this.”
Erin hopped onto the back of her dad’s bike from Red Deer to Vancouver.
“How big can I smile? It was awesome,” Dave said. “She was on a high obviously. She was very excited and for her to actually be there and seeing what’s going on, it was just awesome.”
Darrel Gregory of the Alberta MS Society says it was an emotional journey for his staff as well, as they followed along with Anderson’s ride online. It was especially emotional when Erin joined for the last leg of the trip.
“That’s pretty emotional that she’s able to join them for the last part of their trip, coming home. I think anybody affected by MS, it really is a nice little symbol, a way to end this poignant and important ride that they’re on,” Gregory said.
They completed the ride in Victoria, B.C. and in total raised more than $16,000 for MS.
“It is way more than I ever thought we’d raise, so I’m really happy with it,” Anderson said.
Multiple sclerosis is a disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. It can affect vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility.
Canadians have one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. Between 55,000-75,000 Canadians are affected by MS. In Alberta, 11,000 people live with the disease.
“Some of the more common symptoms early on is blurred vision, you have tingling sensations in your fingers, your legs are numb, any sort of numbness or vision problems,” Gregory said.
The money Anderson and his dad raised will go to provide services for those living with MS in the community and to support MS research programs.
Anderson says the support he received from people across the country will stick with him for a lifetime.
“You could really see it in their faces how happy they were that we were doing this,” Anderson said.
“I think that will stick with me forever.”
With files from Amanda Anderson