CHEK Upside: Islander embarking on fundraising bike ride for RAD Society

WatchMaria Brownlow will cycle 150 km to raise funds for the Rad Society, a group that rents adaptive outdoor equipment to individuals with mobility challenges

As a yoga therapy teacher, Maria Brownlow is used to getting active.

So when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years ago, it was a huge shock.

“It came pretty fast for me,” says Brownlow.

“I had been experiencing vision loss and one thing led to another and being diagnosed with relapsing MS, which is a very common form.”

Brownlow decided to go public with her diagnosis in March and in conjunction with her own cycling fundraiser.

“So the fundraiser is for RAD, which is Recreation Adaptive Society,” says Brownlow. “I really wanted to fundraise for them because they are really promoting access and barrier-free recreation.”

The RAD Society was formed in 2017 by Victoria’s Tanelle Bolt, who became paraplegic after a free jumping accident in 2014.

However, Bolt was still determined to enjoy as many outdoor activities as possible and when she learned the cost of the adaptive equipment required to pursue her athletic goals, she immediately wanted to provide others with a more cost-effective solution.

“This is a program to hopefully allow people to play and do multi-sports instead of just having to choose one,” says Bolt. “An $8,000 bike is pretty hard to cough up when you want to also ski and that costs $3,000.”

Brownlow too knows how helpful adaptive equipment can be.

“I had the gift of getting an e-bike, which gave me back my freedom, my independence, it let me keep moving and stay active when I was at a time when that was really hard and a really big challenge,” says Brownlow.

That’s why she’s pledging to ride 10 kilometres for every $100 and one kilometre for every dollar raised for the RAD Society. What started as a small fundraiser for family and friends has grown more than Brownlow or Bolt could’ve ever imagined.

“It’s come to over 151 kilometres now raised which is over $1,500,” says Brownlow.

“So from what we’ve done with RAD is now after talking to them a little more now that it’s taken shape is we’re going to funnel all of the fundraised dollars from this fundraiser right back to the Victoria community,” adds Brownlow.

“She’s the first stranger that has stepped up and wholeheartedly supported everything beyond my wildest dreams,” smiles Bolt.

To donate to Maria’s fundraiser, visit her GoFundMe page.

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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