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By MEAGHAN MITCHELL
He did it.
Steve Collins, a Pre-health Science professor at Niagara College, has achieved his dream of riding his bicycle around Lake Ontario.
The Tour du Lac was a seven-day 940-kilometre fundraising ride that had Collins and 10 other riders cycling around the lake to raise money for the Heart Investigation Unit (HIU) at the new St. Catharines General Hospital.
Years ago, Collins attended a ceremony recognizing staff and faculty for their years of service. As they walked across the stage, some of their achievements were announced. One had cycled the lake.
“It just grabbed me. I thought, I want to do that,” says Collins.
He began to plan how he was going to do it. He wanted to complete it with his father.
“I was going to do it with my dad, have him drive the car. It was about his pace. He was in his 80’s and he would drive and I’d ride.” Sadly, his father died, so Collins put the plan on the back burner.
Years had passed but the idea of the challenge never left him. Last year, Collins was in his local bike shop in St. Catharines, BikeFit on Scott Street, speaking with an employee named Ian Forbes when he learned about the seven-day ride around Lake Ontario
to raise money for local health care.
The ride was started by Forbes in 2011 to raise money towards a $750,000 pledge to the HIU, from the Rotary Club of St. Catharines South, The May Court Club of St. Catharines and Performance Cars.
The plan was to do three rides in three years. Each ride turned out successfully.
“We raised just over $90,000. Not bad for a small group,” says Forbes.
Collins is a cyclist, a professor of health science
and a registered nurse, so this fundraiser and ride was a perfect fit. He raised $2,725.
“I care about our health care system. So, yeah, I gladly worked hard at fundraising,” says Collins.
The challenge motivated him. The average day was five to six hours and 130 kilometres of riding.
Collins trained and knew he was capable of doing this, what he didn’t know was if he could do it seven days in a row.
On July 13, he crossed
the Rainbow Bridge back into Canada and completed the ride to St. Catharines. He did it.
Collins’ memorable ride inspired his co-worker, science professor Margaret Pickles, to join the Big Move cancer ride on Sept. 8.
“He’s an awesome colleague. He inspires us all to reach a standard of excellence in the science department,” says Pickles.
The Big Move raised money for the Walker Family Cancer Centre. Pickles has lost her mother and brother to cancer and felt good about raising money for the hospital.
“I couldn’t go around the lake like Steve,” Pickles says, “but this is something that I saw as doable.” She rode 25 kilometres on her recumbent tricycle, raised just over $1,200 and will be back again next year.
In 2016, Collins will walk across the stage and receive recognition for 30 years of service to Niagara College. They will announce, at the age of 60, he cycled around Lake Ontario in seven days raising funds for the local hospital and fulfilling a dream.