For Jonathan Allenger, it’s a ride he won’t soon forget. Pedalling across Canada for one purpose, to support those diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis (MS).
“Thats what this journey is about. Raising awareness and raising funds for critical research to help support the community,” Allenger told CTV News.
The cross country cyclist made his way through the Queen City on Sunday for a brief reprieve on his journey, set take the better part of two months.
Allenger got involved in MSBike following his own diagnosis in 2013.
“Its a disease that is both chronic and progressive and affects people with MS differently,” he explained.
“I myself have been fortunate enough to have all my faculties which allows me to ride my bike, which has been a huge pleasure of mine. You know it allows me to be active, stay fit and combat some of the negative impacts.”
A sign of hope for Allenger and others affected by the nerve condition is the advancements in treatment that have already been made in the past decade.
“When I was diagnosed there were less options available to help slow down the progression of this disease,” he said.
“Now theres 19 different options for people with this type of MS that I have. The research just continues to advance and get better and ultimately what were trying to do here is find a cure for MS.”
Since starting off in Kitsilano Beach, B.C., Jonathan’s ride across the country has raised over $65,000 of its $1 million goal.
The personal impact, especially in Saskatchewan, has been enormous according to Jonathan.
“We just actually finished yesterday, probably what I would say was the most positive day of the journey so far. We were joined by some friends here in Saskatchewan who rode to Regina with us,” he said.
“They made us breakfast in the morning and then we had a couple of other friends from Saskatchewan who werent able to make it but bought us dinner in Regina. It was a real outpouring of support.”
“We felt welcomed like family here.”
Barbara Kessler, who’s been involved in the MS cause for years and joined Jonathan from Moose Jaw to Regina, said the addition of some friends while riding is always needed.
“When you talk and visit, time just flies by, with cycling especially. Your mind doesnt get to have time for those thoughts of ‘this is tough’ when youre visiting with someone and just moving yourself along,” she said.
“It was great to catch up and get some extra time to chat but still moving him forward on this journey.”
Kessler’s mother suffered from MS. She went on to say that Allenger’s ride offered a lot of hope for the estimated 90,000 Canadians who suffer from the disease.
“I just think what hes doing is remarkable and inspirational on all levels … I know hes already happy with the progress theyve made,” she said.
“Just support each other, honk that horn and be kind as he’s cycling across Saskatchewan and the rest of Canada.”
For Allenger, the journey is a statement for what those with MS are capable of.
“Our mascot, his name is Hope. Really thats what this journey is about, bringing hope to the community … [we can] say like. ‘Hey, were capable of doing big things too.’ We just have to have a little bit of determination. People have to believe in us and we can get there,” he said.
“I wasnt sure whether or not I could do this. I still dont know if I can finish it.”
“But the point is, it’s a dream thats coming true.”