Even over the phone, Marc Boyer’s charm is immediately evident. His voice is exuberant as he greets me, his positivity palpable. One would never know that he had just cycled over 7,100 kilometres across Canada – a feat that would leave most people utterly exhausted. But Marc isn’t like most people. Over the past three months, Marc and his childhood friend Yvon Jackson have been riding their bikes through the country to raise money and awareness for a cause very dear to their hearts: multiple sclerosis (MS).
Like tens of thousands of Canadians, Marc and Yvon are affected by MS. They have witnessed firsthand the impact this disease has, not just on the individuals who are diagnosed, but also on families and communities. So when Yvon suggested the two embark on a country-wide bike tour in honour of the cause, Marc didn’t need much convincing.
“Since we were teenagers, Yvon and I have always tried to contribute to our community,” explains Marc. “It’s important to us and that’s the key behind why we decided to take on this ride. We both have loved ones who have MS and saw how it can change people’s lives. We want to help in any way we can.”
Thus, the Spicers-Jackson-Boyer-Bergeron Ride Across Canada for MS was born. With the help of his boss Cory Turner, who lives with MS, friends, family members and through sponsorships from generous organizations, Marc and Yvon put their plans in motion.
“People were so helpful and supportive when they found out about what we were trying to do,” says Marc. “My workplace, Spicers Canada, let me take time off work so I could do this. Many of our suppliers and partners agreed to sponsor us. My brother-in-law, Michel, took six months off work so he could accompany us to manage things and a friend came along to drive our RV where we slept at night. The RV was leased to us for a fraction of the price. The bikes were given to us at cost. The MS Society offered support and resources. And on and on. It really showed us that if you’re passionate about something, the universe will make it happen.”
Even with all the help, organizing such an ambitious endeavour was no easy task. Marc, Yvon and Michel had to arrange all the details, from planning their trip route to figuring out places to camp out overnight to getting the RV covered in decals educating the public about MS. They also had to start training well ahead of time so they would be physically up to such a challenge.
“I’m a habitual cyclist but our plan was to cycle around 110-120 kms per day which I’ve never done before so I had to start preparing early,” explains Marc. “My son, Alexandre, started training me in November 2018 and I would train a couple of hours everyday. But it wasn’t hard because I had a goal and focusing on that kept me motivated. It’s always easier to accomplish something when you have a goal.”
Marc, Yvon and Michel certainly had a goal and a lofty one at that. In addition to creating awareness, they aimed to raise $100,000 to help improve the lives of people affected by MS. By the end, they had raised $115,432.16 and growing.
“The amount of support we’ve received from Canadians everywhere has been so great,” says Marc. “Everywhere we’d go, people would come up to our RV and ask about the cause and make unsolicited donations. We met a gentleman in Alberta who randomly donated over $1,000 after speaking to us. I’m so happy we surpassed our goal but not entirely surprised. The generosity of our fellow Canadians never fails to amaze me.”
There were, of course, some bumps along the way. The weather failed to cooperate one day as they were cycling through Calgary, Alberta dropping down to 8 C and drenching Marc and Yvon with freezing rain accompanied by high winds. On another occasion, the RV experienced mechanical issues in Kelowna, B.C., leaving them stranded in a campground until a kind-hearted stranger helped them out. One memorable day, Yvon got a flat tire three times. But throughout it all, they remained optimistic.
“We never really saw these things as challenges,” says Marc. “Anything that went wrong was an opportunity to make some changes and adapt to the situation. We were focused on what we were doing and why we were doing it, which was to help people with MS.”
Along with the challenges came lots of rewarding moments. Everywhere the RV went, people came over to ask questions. They learned about MS and shared their own stories. They made donations, even when they had no personal connection to the cause. They expressed their gratitude.
Now back at home after a long but enjoyable three-month trek, Marc reflects on the journey.
“Yvon and I are so thankful to have been able to take on this initiative and have the support of so many Canadians. We wanted to help and give back and that’s what we did. It’s been a heck of a ride throughout our beautiful country and I can’t wait to do it again!”
Click here to donate to the Spicers-Jackson-Boyer-Bergeron Ride Across Canada for MS.