Paralympic athlete crossing Canada to raise $500,000

Cyclists Michel Dallaire, Manon Bélanger, Thierry Greault, Jacques Légaré, Clément Lemieux and Sylvie Nadeau and volunteer support crew members Baillargeon, Francis Bellemar, Michel Bibeau, Pierrette Cadet, André Belanger, Camille Marchand and Manuel Gagnon join Paralympian Jimmy Pelletier in front of one of the Anything Is Possible support buses. photo by Michael Erskine

MANITOULIN – Paraplegic and Paralympic athlete Jimmy Pelletier began encountering signs of Manitoulin shortly after crossing the Ontario border on route to completing a 7,200 kilometre goal of traversing the nation to assist people with autism spectrum disorders and physical or intellectual disabilities. “We were really wondering what this Manitoulin was,” said spokeperson Camille Marchand. “Now we see what a beautiful place this is.”

The team crossed the Little Current Swing Bridge just after a collision had largely closed the road. “They waved us through then closed the road after us,” said Mr. Marchand. Unfortunately, their chase vehicle following along behind was not so lucky.

Mr. Pelletier is accompanied on his cross country challenge by six other cyclists, Michel Dallaire, Manon Bélanger, Thierry Greault, Jacques Légaré, Clément Lemieux and Sylvie Nadeau, and three decal bedecked vehicles carrying the support crew of Marc Baillargeon, Francis Bellemar, Michel Bibeau, Pierrette Cadet, André Belanger and Manuel Gagnon.

“We are all from the Quebec City area,” said Mr. Marchand.

Mr. Pelletier himself hails originally from Baie-Comeau, Quebec and has always participated in sports, starting with hockey and baseball at the age of three. A car crash in 1996 left him without the use of his legs, but did not crush his spirit. Mr. Pelletier has maintained his passion for sports and his determination and perseverance has kept him focussed on a positive path forward—hence the theme of his tour “Anything is Possible-Tout Est Possible.”

Mr. Pelletier went on to compete in the World Cup five kilometre sit-ski competitions at Mont Orford and found a spot on the Canadian squad, going on to secure a berth at the 2006 Paralympic Games in Turin Italy.

The paralympian is also a passionate volunteer and he was awarded the Fierté Prize and the title of ambassador for his involvement in the development of adaptive sports. He has also worked with a volunteer homework program for children in need for the past half decade. In 2018 he was awarded the Fernard-Dufour prize for volunteer of the year by then Quebec Premier Phillipe Coullaird for his work with the organization Adaptavie and Patro Roc-Amadour.

Mr. Pelletier’s goal this year is to raise $500,000 that will be divided among two foundations and several local awards in regions across Canada, including $25,000 to be donated when he reaches Toronto later this month. No stranger to fundraising success, Mr. Pelletier had already hauled in an impressive $475,000 in the four editions of his Randonnée Jimmy Pelletier and Spin-O-Cage in which 630 cyclists pedalled for 30 minutes at the Place de La Cité shopping centre in Quebec City.

This time his fundraising challenge is to travel 7,200 kilometres, with six cyclists aiming to raise $500,000 “one pedal at a time.” Those who wish to join Mr. Pelletier in reaching that goal are invited to log into JimmyPelletierCanada2019.com to pledge $25 a kilometre. “Each kilometre is marked online and you can see your kilometre on the path of The Journey,” said Mr. Marchand. People can also donate by contacting Mario Légaré at Mario.Legare@adaptavie.org or by calling 418-529-9238.