Manitoba

U.S. cyclist's bike stolen in Winnipeg after 1,600-km ride to raise funds for eating disorders

He made it all the way from Wichita, Kansas, to Winnipeg on his bicycle, but when he got here, Kelly Harrison's ride was stolen while it was strapped to his truck in a hotel parkade.

Kelly Harrison and his brother rode from Kansas in Bridget's Wreath, ride named for niece who died last year

Kelly (left) and Dr. Paul Harrison pedalled into Winnipeg Sunday as the Wichita, Kan., brothers capped a 10-day bicycle journey from the U.S. Midwest to raise awareness for those struggling with eating disorders. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

He made it all the way from Wichita, Kan., to Winnipeg on his bicycle, but when he got here, Kelly Harrison's ride was stolen while it was strapped to his truck in a hotel parkade.

Harrison and his brother Paul arrived in Winnipeg Sunday night, after pedalling close to 1,600 kilometres in 10 days to raise money and awareness for treating eating disorders and associated mental health challenges.

They stayed at a hotel that night, and Harrison left his bike strapped to his truck in the underground parkade. Then, Monday morning, the valet at their hotel pulled Harrison's truck around for him.

"They brought the truck up, and there's no bike," Harrison recalled Tuesday on the phone from his home in Kansas. "So I called my wife, I said, did you take the bike off already, to get us ready for the ride this morning?"

She hadn't.

"Sure enough, it'd been stolen."

Harrison said the hotel — which he declined to name — captured the incident on its security camera, and he made a report to Winnipeg police. The hotel will compensate him for the bicycle, he added.

But he said the theft is just a side story compared to his overall journey, which he and his brother did in the name of his niece, Bridget Harrison, who died last year while battling anorexia. They called the ride Bridget's Wreath.

 "I don't want any of this whole thing about the bike theft to take away from the whole purpose of the ride," Harrison said.

"At the end of the day, it's just a bike. It's not a human life, and what we're trying to do is to ride [to] impact human lives, and save lives."

Paul holds up his bike, adorned with a wreath in honour of his daughter Bridget. (Submitted by Bridget's Wreath/Facebook)

In an interview Monday morning, before they discovered the bike theft, Harrison's brother Paul told CBC Manitoba's Information Radio guest host Pat Kaniuga about his daughter Bridget's brilliance and strength.

"She was a phenomenal individual in all respects — she was a genius," he said.

"She finally succumbed to the depression and anxiety, but … there were periods where she would be happy. Those are the pictures I've stored in my mind."

On Tuesday, Kelly said the ride raised more than $33,000 for the U.S.-based National Eating Disorder Association.

He said that achievement, and the overall purpose of the ride, is what he wants people to focus on.

"We can't let one individual's selfishness or whatever you want to call it ruin the whole purpose," he said. "It's just a bike."

With files from Bryce Hoye, Ismaila Alfa and CBC Manitoba's Up To Speed

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