“Friendship isn’t just about recognizing the physical person. It’s also about witnessing who they are on the inside.”
Marc Boyer’s philosophy isn’t just the bedrock for his special bond with his colleague, Cory Turner. It was the foundation for a movement that propelled Marc on a cross-Canada bike trek to bring awareness for multiple sclerosis (MS).
During the summer of 2019, Marc Boyer, his long-time friend Yvon Jackson, and his brother-in-law Michel Bergeron cycled a memorable three-month journey from Vancouver, BC to Halifax, NS. Every pedal over the 7,100 kilometres was inspired by their desire to spread awareness for MS, a disease that affects Marc’s closest friends, Yvon and Cory.
We sat down with Cory and Marc to discuss how their friendship inspired a crusade that made such a profound effect on the lives of so many Canadians.
Marc and Cory’s friendship started in 2012. Cory was the President of Spicers Canada, and Marc was a General Sales Manager of a competitor, curious about working with Cory and his team.
Since their initial meeting, Marc enjoyed the charismatic nature of Cory’s personality. “What’s noticeable is his straightforward, approachable persona. It’s unique seeing that from a President of a large company,” says Marc.
Cory was diagnosed with secondary-progressive MS in March 2005. With an outlook reminiscent of a stoic philosopher, Cory decided that he would not allow his diagnosis to dictate his life. He recognized the disease would present new challenges that he would need to conquer with enduring love and support from his family and friends.
In 2014, Cory transitioned from walking with a cane to using his wheelchair full-time. “He never let the wheelchair define his limitations,” says Marc. “He was a true inspiration, and I wanted to show him the tremendous respect I had for him.”
The admiration these men had for each other was palpable – an underlying catalyst behind how they raised over $160,000 to improve the lives of Canadians living with MS. Both Cory and Marc recognized openness and action as tools for growth, and immediately foresaw this cross-Canada trek as an opportunity to accelerate MS awareness. “We needed to do something to start the conversation about MS and make sure people knew it was okay to talk about the disease,” says Marc.
The planning of the trip was a secret project Marc kept from Cory for a while.
“He never really told me what the project was. He told me he was working on something special. Then, he unveiled his plan,” says Cory. “After some tears, we focused on how we could execute it to serve as a powerful example for other members of the MS community.”
Building the journey took meticulous planning and creative problem-solving, including the idea to deck out a giant RV in MS red. The RV acted as a symbol, showing passersby that finding a cure will take bold action.
“Canadians have such intense humility, but sometimes, they don’t ask for help. I thought this would be a good way for people to develop the confidence required to raise their hands. If they saw this, perhaps they may consider being a bit bolder with their actions and find the courage to participate in some way,” says Cory.
Being bold is precisely what makes Cory so successful. Even though he couldn’t cycle himself, he donated all the time and energy he could muster to ensure Marc, Yvon and Michel could have a triumphant ride across Canada.
Despite the challenges 2020 has thrown at the MS community, Marc and Cory believe that this year’s virtual MS Bike event on July 25-26 is an opportunity for people to achieve goals they couldn’t have otherwise. “When you remove obstacles such as unpleasant weather or harsh terrain, people can come together virtually and accomplish incredible goals as a family, a group of friends, or a virtual team,” says Cory.
This year, on July 26, Marc is biking with his sons Alex and Francis, with the plan of cycling 160 km. If weather permits, they want to beat Marc’s single-day best distance of 183 km from last year.
As we near the first anniversary to the epic Spicers-Jackson-Boyer-Bergeron Ride Across Canada for MS, Marc can’t help but think back and notice how friendship was everything to him those months.
“Some of the evenings when we were together, I had tears in my eyes. My inspiration came from the heart, but my drive to keep pushing was motivated by our friendship and a desire to find a cure for MS.”