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Frank Pollari doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be able to see.
Suffering from a rare condition called Retinitis pigmentosa, Pollari only has about four per cent of his vision in daylight and virtually none at night. The condition being degenerative, their might come a day soon when the avid cyclist can’t see at all. It’s one of the reasons he signed on for the Thunder Bay to Toronto Bike Ride for United Way.
“I have to get all the adventure in I can while my vision is still there,” Pollari, an infrastructure technology support officer with the provincial government, said Saturday afternoon before he headed out on the ten-day trek.
From Sept. 1 to 10, 13 Ontario Public Service employees from across the province will cycle more than 140 kilomtres a day as they ride from Thunder Bay to the province’s capital. Pollari said along with getting to see parts of the province he hasn’t been before, he’s looking forward to the camaraderie with the riders, some of who met for the first time Friday night.
“A big part will be getting to know these people through some trying times,” he said.
Some of those trying times will be overcoming the highway’s hills. Simon Trevarthen, a director with the health ministry in Toronto who organized the ride, said there are more than 12,600 metres of hills along the way. Mount Everest is 8,600. But the route, along Hwy. 17, is all part of the epic adventure.
“Luckily there’s also down hills so it’s an opportunity to do something incredible for health promotion and also support a great cause,” Trevarthen said.
United Way Thunder Bay past chair Jules Tupker said while most offices hold fundraising events for the cause, this journey is unheard of.
“It’s an absolutely amazing thing,” he said. “The sacrifice these people are making for the United Way is phenomenal.”
Both Pollari and Trevarthen have cycled big treks before. Along with Cambodia and Thailand, Pollari once rode all the way from Vancouver to Mexico. Trevarthen’s most recent trip took him 4,500 kilometres across Africa. Still, the two say this latest adventure will be a tough but rewarding one.
The group is hoping to raise $100,000. To donate visit their website
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