18-year-old stops in Strathmore during Cross Canada Cure walk
Salmon Arm, B.C.’s Breyden Erickson is spending his summer a little differently than his pals. The 18-year-old is attempting to walk across Canada for cancer research—he left March 23 from Horseshoe Bay, B.C. for Sydney, Nova Scotia, where he expects to arrive sometime in October. He made a stop in Strathmore on May 22.
“My friends have mixed feelings about it,” Erickson said. “Some of them are confused as to why I’m still doing this, and others are saying ‘Aw hey, that’s awesome, what can I do to help?’”
One of his friends is the reason for the adventure. Diagnosed with leukemia, Erickson credits her for part of the initial spark of the Cross Canada Cure journey.
“I just figured I could do something, and I might as well make it worth my while,” he said.
But why walk, when you could run, bike, rollerblade, or cartwheel?
“Ironically, part of the reason I think was, a year ago, I got caught speeding and lost my license,” Erickson said. “For quite a few months I was without a vehicle, and since my dad was working, he couldn’t always give me a ride. I had to walk to work; 4.5 km on the highway there, 4.5 km back…so I thought, walking’s not that bad.”
Though his largest expedition so far was 58km in Savona, B.C. (with rain and big hills, of course), he averages roughly 30 km per day, and can do about 5 km per hour. He says he did minimal training in preparation for the voyage.
“One of the things I wanted to prove is that you didn’t really have to go to the gym every day and work out as much as you can,” Erickson said. “Someone who sits at home, plays videogames, and hangs with friends can do this too.”
For the first two weeks of the walk, he carried a 60 lb. backpack with all his tenting gear, and camped out at night by himself. Afterwards, his grandparents were able to meet up with him, and drive along in their RV. They split their time between leapfrogging ahead, and following behind on the shoulder while their grandson walks against traffic on the left side of the road. Al and Norma plan on sticking with him at least until Thunder Bay, but may journey with him all the way to Nova Scotia, possibly selling the RV once Breyden finishes. Erickson even sold his own car to put forth some cost to expenses.
It’s been an entire family and friends effort, whether it be providing a place to stay, giving some food, or taking care of logistics week to week on the fly: “My mom’s been calling ahead, my uncle and aunt handling PR, my other uncle with the blog (crosscanadacure2013.blogspot.ca). My dad’s been helping out with the phone bill, whenever he can, which is a big help,” Erickson said.
He hikes with a small backpack of water bottles, and usually listens to music, audiobooks, or podcasts to keep himself occupied. The teen says the most difficult parts so far have been the flatlands: “It’s boring. I miss steep hills through the mountains because at least that was something to look at.”
Though grandma’s cooking is a close second, he says Rogers Pass was his most favourite part of the trip. “That was incredible, to see how freakishly tall those mountains were,” Erickson said.
Looking forward to the provinces he’s never seen, such as Manitoba and Quebec, Erickson admits there have been some ups and downs, including temporarily losing his wallet, breaking in new running shoes, and showering in the RV with his tall, lanky frame.
Erickson is also using this event towards a Grade 12 P.E. credit through an education outreach program to finish his high school diploma. He eventually wishes to study at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton.
There are two ways to contribute to Breyden’s Cross Canada Cure Walk; the expenses portion covers his gas, campgrounds, food, etc. while you can also donate at www.tinyurl.com/crosscanadacure for fundraising. Breyden’s goal is to raise $323,323 (since he left March 23, or 03/23). He currently sits just under $3,000. Notably, the Mayor of Salmon Arm, Nancy Cooper, donated $500 to Breyden’s cause, as did Salmon Arm’s Bell with $300.
“We’ve been very grateful to everyone so far who has lended us a place to stay,” said Erickson. “We’ve gotten a few free campsites or deals on things in exchange for advertising.”
By the walk’s end, he will have travelled 6,000 km by foot. If kept on schedule, he will leave the Alberta border by June 1.
“Any amount counts, that’s no exaggeration,” Erickson said. “Like Terry Fox, with a dollar per Canadian. That’s easily enough to get our goal met. The sooner that happens, the better.”
To financially support the CrossCanadaCure: CIBC transit # 00250 account # 83-68694