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Supporter Stories: A bike ride around Lake Ontario raises money for MSF's efforts against Ebola

This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of Dispatches, the MSF Canada magazine.

Many of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)'s supporters choose to organize their own fundraisers to help share in MSF’s commitment to provide emergency medical relief to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disaster or neglect. Fundraisers can take many forms — including bike rides, as the story below shows — so if you have an idea, visit MSF Canada's fundraising page to get started.

By Faith Leleu

Andrew Lingard is no newcomer to physical challenges. The 24-year old is an avid runner and cyclist who once rode his bike from Niagara Falls to Montreal to raise money for his grandmother’s breakfast club.

So when Lingard decided last summer to find a way of supporting Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s efforts to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the idea of raising money by riding the entire distance around Lake Ontario — some 800 kilometres in all — didn’t seem unreasonable. “Anyone can do it,” says Lingard modestly of his journey. “Biking is a low impact sport.”

The McGill University graduate, who recently completed his master’s degree in experimental medicines, was impressed by MSF’s response to the Ebola crisis this past year. “No one was talking about [the Ebola epidemic] in a constructive manner and MSF was throwing itself into it,” says Lingard.​

Virtuous cycle

Lingard visited communities around southern Ontario to find people willing to support his efforts. By September 23 last year, he was ready to begin his journey, leaving from Lewiston, N.Y. and heading east.

The ride itself was a mix of pleasurable views along the Erie Canal and painful experiences, including very long days and an ankle injury that almost made the cyclist give up in Picton, Ontario. But perseverance — and a great physiotherapist who donated his expertise to Lingard when he heard why he was riding around the lake — made it possible for him to finish his journey in his hometown of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, on September 28.

In all, Lingard managed to raise $6,500. “People were seeing Ebola on the news every night and they really wanted to do something,” he says. “They could see how much suffering there was, and they really wanted to reach out.”

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