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Youth cycles across country for Parkinson’s awareness

trevor mcloughlin

Trevor McLaughlin, 19, is cycling from Vancouver to Halifax to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease.

Trevor McLaughlin knew he had underestimated the challenge of cycling across Canada when he got his first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains after setting out from Vancouver.
The 19-year-old from Wallaceburg, Ont. only had to think of his grandfather living with the physical restrictions of Parkinson’s disease to find inspiration to conquer the first serious challenge of his ride.
“I figured it was going to be easy until I saw the mountains,” McLaughlin said Friday after rolling into Fort Macleod. “But I just kept pushing.”
McLaughlin is cycling from Vancouver to Halifax, N.S. to raise awareness of Parkinson’s along with money for research into a cure or treatment for the disease.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that causes shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty walking.
McLaughlin is close to his maternal grandfather Ron English and was pained to see how the Parkinson’s has affected his life.
“He can’t do the things he used to do but he still gets out there and tries,” McLaughlin said.
However, a few hours plowing the fields can knock McLaughlin’s grandfather out of commission for days.
The struggle his grandfather faced inspired McLaughlin at the tender age of 12 to decide to fund-raise and raise awareness of the disease.
McLaughlin’s plan to cycle 200 kilometres from Windsor to London was shot down by his parents who had concerns about their young son cycling on the highway.
Each following year McLaughlin continued to push the idea of a cycling ride for Parkinson’s but met with the same resistance.
When he turned 18 McLaughlin began a series of shorter rides that added up to 4,473 kilometres — the distance of flying from Vancouver to Halifax.
“I was getting the awareness out there,” McLaughlin said of media coverage of his efforts.
McLaughlin raised awareness of Parkinson’s as well as $6,000 for research.
A football, hockey and lacrosse player, the young athlete decided in November that he would ride from Vancouver to Halifax.
“I enlisted in the military back in September and I’m hopefully leaving this coming November,” said McLaughlin, who joined the army. “I figured this is the only year I can do it (cycling). I don’t know where I’m going to be for the next 25 years.”
McLaughlin figured that all the cycling he had done the previous two years had prepared him for the cross-country journey.
“I think my cockiness took over,” McLaughlin said with a laugh. “I figured I did the distance the past two summers, it’s going to be easy until I saw the mountains. Our biggest hills are overpasses. When I went from to a 60-foot overpass to a 4,000 foot mountain my eyes were opened up pretty quick.”
McLaughlin wears an iPod when he rides, listening to a variety of music from country rock to rap — songs with about 140 beats a minute.
McLaughlin, whose mother Mary is his support team travelling in a van, eats every hour and consumes 10 to 15 litres of water each day.
With a goal of raising $10,000 for research, McLaughlin seeks people out at each stop to educate them about Parkinson’s.
“People are surprised,” the former football defensive lineman and hockey goaltender said of reaction to learning he is cycling across the country. “I don’t have the biker’s physique that most people picture.”
The people McLaughlin meets are willing to listen.
“Most people have heard of Parkinson’s but don’t know what it does,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin had travelled 1,108 kilometres of his 6,600-kilometre journey by the time he reached Fort Macleod, where he was granted a free camping spot at the Daisy May Campground.
It’s a daunting journey, but one he keeps in perspective.
“When I step away from this I know I’ll be healthier than when I started,” McLaughlin said. “I’ll also know my grandfather still has Parkinson’s, and I’m close to him.”
Follow McLaughlin www.facebook.com/TrevorsRideForParkinson or donate at www.gofundme.com/2fe23g. Money donated in Alberta stays in the province.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Taylor Moorby Says:

    Hi Fort Macleod Gazette!

    My name is Taylor Moorby and I am Trevor’s cousin. I have been a part of this ride from the beginning and do things from the sidelines in Ontario behind my computer screen.
    I just wanted to give you the correct link to our facebook page for Trevor where we update!
    It is http://www.facebook.com/TrevorsRideForParkinsons2013
    Thank you so much for doing an article on Trevor. This article is VERY well written and helps to get the word out there! You are FANTASTIC!