Man bikes to raise funds for guide dog organization
Throwing a pen to the ground, Michel Garant asks Mollo, his Labrador retriever cross, to pick it up.
Mollo picks up the pen with his mouth and chews it up, deforming the pen.
Garant is embarrassed - his companion and service dog doesn’t usually let him down.
But he laughs it off and pats Mollo on the head.
It’s the mentality Garant has maintained over the last eight years despite becoming a paraplegic in a snowboarding accident.
“You don’t accept what happened, in a way, but you must go on and make the best of it,” Garant, a Quebec-native said through his translator Michel Cloutier.
“I was happy to have my two arms and not be a vegetable. I feel very privileged.”
Garant said his family and friends provided him with the support he needed at the time of the accident and supported him when he wasn’t able to continue on with his job as a contractor specializing in church roofs.
An active individual, Garant sought ways to help people and keep active despite being limited to a wheelchair.
He, Cloutier, Mollo and a few other companions began a bike tour across Canada to raise money and awareness for the company that brought Mollo to Garant three years ago– Mira.
Garant uses a specially equipped 27-speed adaptable arm strong bike.
He appreciates the service provided by Mollo, as well as the companionship she provides.
“Mollo is specially trained to help me in my day-to-day needs,” Garant said.
He said a common misconception is that service dogs are only for blind people.
“The founder of Mira is very innovative,” he said, noting that the dogs are trained to help a variety of challenged people.
“They provide free dogs,” he said. “And there’s a great demand.”
Garant began biking in Vancouver on June 9 and had travelled 1,200 kilometres by the time he reached Cochrane on June 24.
He usually gets up early and bikes from 7:30 a.m. until around 4 or 5 p.m.
“Being a paraplegic, I thought ‘If I can do this, maybe I can raise some money’,” he said adding that Mira doesn’t receive any grants.
Garant and his team have raised $14,000 for Mira so far. They expect to finish the 7,300 kilometres to Sidney, Nova Scotia along the TransCanada Highway on Aug. 31.
To find out more information, visit www.michelgarant.ca