A quadriplegic man has finished his lofty goal of handcycling across Canada, arriving in Victoria on Saturday after departing from Cape Spear, Newfoundland, more than four months ago.
Kevin Mills rolled onto the Ogden Point breakwater early Saturday afternoon along with his best friend and riding partner, Nikki Davenport, who completed the entire cross-country ride with him.
The pair launched their ride in late May in hopes of inspiring other people to get active – particularly people with disabilities – and to get a national look at how accessible roads are for cyclists, hand cyclists, and people with disabilities.
“The trip was phenomenal. It was such an experience, a once in a lifetime experience,” Mills told CHEK News on Saturday.
“It was tough, it was a challenge, but so rewarding and I’m just so thankful that I could do it and that I had a friend who wanted to do it with me.”
Pedaling for a cause
Mills suffered a spinal cord injury in 2009 that left him paralyzed. The prominent athlete was in a dark place before he discovered handcycling, and since then he’s completed six marathons and 24 half-marathons across North America.
Those events helped him prepare for the more than 8,400 kilometre ride he completed with Davenport.
“I really hope it inspires people, especially people with disabilities, to get out and get active and just know how important physical activity is for mental and physical health,” he said.
“I hope it encourages a lot of young people to get out and active and also improving accessibility and knowing how important it is.”
Mills spoke with children at two schools in Vancouver and Nanaimo before arriving in Victoria.
Davenport says those visits were inspirational.
“The kids were just so captivated by his story and everything that he’s done the whole summer,” she said.
“It’s awesome that he’s influencing children at that age because they’re the ones who are going to be making change in the future,” she said. “In 10 years time, those are the ones that are going to be changing streets, changing roads, making rules, making laws, and actually doing the change.”
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Davenport says the ride was stressful and exciting, and that it really showed there was a difference when good public infrastructure was in place for cyclists and people with disabilities.
Mills says one day he hopes Canada has a fully accessible biking route for people with disabilities that connects from coast to coast.
He also said he was thankful for his personal support worker, Candice, who accompanied the pair across Canada.
“We wouldn’t have gotten off Newfoundland without her,” he said. “She’s done so much and I’m grateful for both of them.”
More information about the ride can be found on the Pedaling Possibilities website.