Victoria’s Cole Glover is training for the longest bicycle ride of his life
“I’m a little bit nervous,” said Glover, a Parkland Secondary graduate.
Along with two friends from Vancouver, Glover is aiming to cycle 520 kilometres from Port Hardy to Victoria in fewer than 24 hours.
“It’ll be pretty easy to find the motivation when we really need it,” he said.
The group’s motivation is their good friend Mathew Szymanowski, or ‘Shim’ as they call him.
“I was really speechless when they first came up to me with the idea,” said Szymanowski, who is currently based in Toronto.
“Shim” met Glover as the two shared a boat together for the UVIC Vikes rowing team. Glover describes Shim as a great student, an elite athlete and a true leader of the pack who was always “down for anything.”
Last summer, the two originally planned to ride the length of Vancouver Island together. But just less than a year ago, Szymanowski was struck by a vehicle while riding, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.
“It took a while to wrap my head around it, and seeing him was tough,” said Glover, recounting the traumatic time he heard of his good friend’s injuries.
“But it was also kind of cathartic in a way as well, ’cause you can see how he still has that attitude of not giving up.”
Szymanowski says in the dark times following the incident, constant support from his friends and family played a major role in lifting his spirit.
“It gives me a lot of motivation to keep going, and boosts my morale a ton,” he said.
The 24-year-old software engineering student says he’s doing whatever it takes to recover. He’s been approved for stem cell trials in Minnesota, and in a few months, he hopes to travel to Thailand for costly epidural stimulation treatment.
Glover and his friends knew they had to help.
“I texted Nick and Sam and said ‘well how bout we do this and we raise some money for Shim’, and they were both so down,” said Glover.
Their fundraising goal is $100,000. As of this post, they’ve surpassed $73,000.
“I am optimistic and looking forward to the future,” said Szymanowski, who hopes to one day stand and, if all goes well, walk again.
The ride takes place July 25 and more information on the cycling fundraiser can be found at www.shimsride.ca.
Glover says his good friend is all the inspiration he’ll need to complete the challenging ride.
“Just keep battling, keep battling because you know that he’s going through a much tougher battle…. just keep fighting,” he said.