This summer, however, after a lengthy physical and psychiatric rehabilitation at the Toronto Western Hospital, Holton accompanied Parlette on an 8000 km bicycling trip from Vancouver to St. John’s, raising money for the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada and spreading awareness about cardiovascular disease. Initially, they had hoped to raise $16,000; when they reached the finish line in St. John’s two weeks ago, they had raised $33,292.36. These funds will be used to endow a scholarship on cardiac rehabilitation research and to support the training of staff members at rehab centres across Canada.
Their journey “from sea to sea” on tour bikes loaded with 70 lbs of gear was even more arduous than they had expected. “TODAY. WAS. HARD,” they wrote on their travel blog after climbing the steep Allison Pass leading to Hope, BC. On the way, they came across a pack of grizzlies and had to “flag down a car beside us to serve as a shield between us and an enormous bear.” Although the ride through mountainous British Columbia was the most grueling leg of their trip, each province, they said, presented a different and equally daunting challenge. “It rained everyday in New Brunswick. We had a headwind every single day in Manitoba, and the terrain, although very beautiful, gets kind of repetitive at the same time, too. And stretching into Nova Scotia, by then you’re starting to get really mentally tired.”
Holton and Parlette stopped at 16 cardiac rehab centres across the country, where they encouraged patients not to lose hope of reaching a comparable level of physical fitness. “After surgery,” Holton said, “I, like many other people, had feelings of inadequacy and depression. I didn’t know what was [physically] possible.” These feelings are particularly prevalent among young people like Holton himself. “Especially when you’re younger you have a tendency to think you’re the only person going through this, and it’s this insurmountable thing, but when you get to know other people have gone through the same thing it makes it normal and OK.”
To donate to the Cardiac Health Foundation, please visit Holton and Parlette’s blog at avclubbiking.ca