Seniors pedal from Wichita to Winnipeg in Alzheimer's awareness ride
Duo raises $9.8K for Alzheimer's research as part of 1,500 kilometre cycling trip
A pair of seniors pedalled into Winnipeg Monday as their roughly 1,500 kilometre cycling trip to raise money for Alzheimer's disease came to a close.
"It's not so much about what we've done but why we did it," said 67-year-old Richard Stephens. "This is a a dreadful condition."
He and his 65-year-old friend Dr. Paul Harrison said they are grateful for all of the support they received along their journey in honour of Harrison's 89-year-old father Herb.
Harrison is about to retire after a long career as a trauma surgeon at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita and says it's been very painful to watch his father Herb's mental condition continue to deteriorate.
"It's incredibly sad to see a man that has given me everything I have, has raised me, has given me all the opportunities and allowed me to achieve all the things I've been able to achieve [go through this]," Harrison said. "It makes me cry frequently to see what my father is going through."
As the disease progressed, Herb went through the typical stages of agitation and hostility associated with the disease. He's in the later stages now and has lost the ability to even recognize his wife and son.
"Now he's just there; he smiles when people come in the room but he does not know who they are," Harrison said. "He'll give my mom a kiss but he would give anybody a kiss. He does not know who she [is]."
Harrison said he hopes the duo's 9½-day trip helps get people talking and donating to Alzheimer's research.
"There are a lot of other worthy causes, but this one is obviously very personal. My dad is one of those people ... you were thankful you were raised by a father like my dad Herbert. To see him get to his golden years and about ready to celebrate their 69th anniversary ... but dad's not with us anymore; he doesn't know if he's going to have that anniversary."
While the trip was challenging and fraught with mixed emotions, Stephens said the pair is ultimately glad they pushed themselves and completed the adventure.
"At our age we're very thankful for each day, but to be able to make this trip in honour of his dad and to do something hopefully we'll all benefit from, either our families or us personally, is just a tremendous feeling," Stephens said.
As of Monday, Stephens and Harrison were just $200 short of their fundraising goal of $10,000.