Utopia cyclist finds his happy place raising money for children with cancer

For its second year, David Walsh wants to drive 1,000 miles and raise $5,000 as part of a fundraiser to support the SickKids Foundation

It’s been 10 years since David Walsh nearly lost his life after crashing his motorcycle on a group ride near Cookstown.

Walsh, who suffered a traumatic brain injury from the crash, spent more than a month in a coma, followed by extensive rehabilitation to relearn how to do even the most mundane tasks — and due to ongoing health problems such as frequent migraines, fatigue and shortness of breath. term memory problems, could not return to his job as an outdoor educator.

Instead, the Utopia resident spends his time cleaning up his community and raising money for charity.

“While walking my dog, I saw a lot of trash on the side of the road and a few beer cans, and thought I’d pick them up. I took the dog home, grabbed a cart and started picking up trash,” Walsh told BarrieToday.

The first morning, Walsh said he collected 100 beer cans, six garbage bags, and five or six garbage bags.

This year, he says he’s cleared out more than 1,000 beer cans on his way alone from people drinking and driving and throwing their empties by the side of the road.

The money from all the cans he collects will be used to raise money for the Great Cycle Challenge in support of the Sick Kids Foundation, where Canadians of all ages and abilities challenge themselves to pedal in August to fight childhood cancer. Since its launch in 2016, the event has seen riders from across Canada ride a total of 12,580,838 miles and raised $21,612,147 to support research to develop treatments and find a cure for childhood cancer.

Before his accident, Walsh said he wasn’t much into cycling, but he admitted it has since become a great way to not only stay active but also to calm his mind.

“So much happens in the head of a wounded brain that when I get on my bike it all melts away. I can just go. It helps me relax and I use it as a way of mindfulness meditation, which is one of the things I’ve learned about rehabilitation over the past 10 years.

This is Walsh’s second year participating in the challenge, having driven 1,000 miles and raising $5,000 last year. This year he wants to repeat that feat.

“I lost both my parents to cancer within two months (of each other) in 2010. Childhood cancer, there is nothing worse. I’m doing this a little selfishly to feel better about myself for not being at work. So I’m making my street a better place (by cleaning it up) and raising money for childhood cancer,” he said. “I saw an ad on Facebook about the Great Cycle Challenge. … When I clicked on it it said ‘bicycle, childhood cancer, fundraising’ and that was all I wanted to hear.”

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