A Langara recreation leadership student and incomplete quadriplegic is determined to ride 2,500 kilometres on his bicycle to raise money for Spinal Cord Injury BC.
David Parke, 47, was injured in a mountain biking accident in North Vancouver in June 2010.
By riding from Whitehorse, Yukon to Vancouver this June, he hopes to raise $50,000 through the Ride for Spine fundraiser.
Being an incomplete quadriplegic means Parke has damage to all four of his limbs but is not fully paralyzed. He has a 20 per cent deficit of function in his hands and feet.
To keep his feet in place on his two-wheeled bicycle, Parke wears shoes with cleats that attach to the pedals.
“I’m trying to do the best that I can to recover from all of this,” said Parke.
Aside from training for the long ride, parenting two girls and working part-time in the film industry, Parke is a part-time student in the recreation leadership program at Langara, after which he hopes to find full-time work.
Riding to raise money and awareness
Apart from fundraising for his ride, Parke hopes to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by the estimated 2,400 people living with paralysis in rural B.C.
“I know some people that are living in small towns that are just incredible…living on a farm with a wheelchair on a day to day basis, I don’t know what that looks like, but it makes my life seem relatively easy,” said Parke.
Pat Harris of Spinal Cord Injury BC agreed rural municipalities have fewer resources available. While Vancouver has implemented accessibility bylaws, small towns lag behind in that regard.
“Some of the towns are old, they were built back when the building codes didn’t have provisions for accessibility,” he said.
According the Rick Hansen Institute, there are about 12,000 people living with spinal cord injuries in B.C. and over 500 new injuries expected this year.
Huge costs to people living with spinal cord injury
The average lifetime cost to someone with a spinal cord injury ranges from $1.6 million to $3 million depending on the severity of the injury.
B.C.’s Medical Services Plan covers basic costs such as hospital stays and some prescription drugs. However, specialist appointments, physiotherapy, naturopathy and equipment such as wheelchairs often come out of pocket for those who don’t have extended health care.
“Whether it’s equipment or the possibility of getting grants, there’s quite a few things that would be available to them through Spinal Cord Injury BC and they’re an organization that does a lot as a non-profit,” said Parke. “They sort of pick up the pieces where the government can’t.”
Learn more about David Parke’s fundraising ride here.
Reported by Ash Kelly