A devastating injury in 2009 hasn’t stopped Kevin Mills from inspiring others as he makes his way across Canada in a wheelchair.
Mills, is a quadriplegic whose goal is to travel from coast-to-coast across Canada.
Cycling beside him for the entire journey are Nikki Davenport and driving the camper to destination is Candice Wyns, Mills Personal Support Worker (PSW).
The goal of the journey is to raise awareness and positively that there is life after a devastating injury and to improve accessibility awareness.
“We’re trying to establish and share an accessible bike route. And just let everyone know the difficulties we faces along the way.”
Prior to his injury Mills was a Advanced Care Paramedic and avid rock climber.
But that all changed in February, 2009 at the age of 28 when he attended his sisters wedding in Cuba. While swimming in the ocean he was hit by a rogue wave and suffered the life altering injury when his head slammed into the sand.
Mills became a quadriplegic and was initially told he would need his head to steer his wheelchair.
But on his 43rd birthday, he left Cape Spear, Newfoundland embarking on his 7,400 kilometre journey across Canada. When he’s finished he will achieved something no one else has ever done, becoming the first quadriplegic to cross Canada in a wheelchair.
Today’s Northumberland caught up with Mills in Brighton where the trio stayed overnight at his aunt and uncles house.
With the recreational vehicle in the driveway with the words “PedalingPossibilities.ca” along the side of the camper it wasn’t necessary to see if you were at the right address.
Wyns and Davenport helped Mills down the front steps in his wheelchair before a third wheel was snapped on.
The third wheel helps with power assisting, but Mills says he has to be cranking the arms of the trike and to stop he peddles the arms backwards.
The attachment for the wheelchair is specialized and was made in Spain. The group had another one for the journey, but it was stolen in Quebec. The cost – approximately $9,000.
Mills said the journey is about, “not only accessibility but activity after injury.”
After the journey across Canada, Mills said Pedaling Possibilities will help people get involved in accessible sport or activities.
Over the course of the journey so far, he’s had to overcome many obstacles with bike lanes not being wide enough to improper showers.
“It’s about creating change. People, especially people with disabilities – if they can see me out there doing stuff, they can not only see it’s possible for them, but other people see where improvements need to be made.”
Speaking to Mills, it’s clear he doesn’t let what happened to him define the person he is.
“Apart of it is being able to do this. Get out and exercise. It helps with mental health. It helps with physical health.”
“A lot of quadriplegics find it difficult to get out and involved in the community, but I get to bike everyday and it’s just wonderful. It makes me happy and positive.”
If people want to donate for the journey they can go to pedalingpossibilities.ca.
Mills said the journey doesn’t stop after the trip.
“Any funds raised are going towards activity based therapy programs and also getting people involved active.”
Cobourg Mayor Lucas Cleveland and Councillor Adam Bureau greets Mills and Davenport at Victoria Hall at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.
They both were presented with certificates that said, “On behalf of Council and our employees, it is my distinct pleasure to offer my congratulations on your Bike Across Canada.
Your mission to bike across Canada can only be described as inspiring and motivational, as you promote the importance of physical activity after injury and spread the message about inclusivity for all.
Please accept our very best wishes as you continue on your journey across Canada and our thoughts will remain with you.”