Jeff Heuchert Stratford Gazette
Derrick Ferguson’s Wheel In Motion Tour to raise money for victims of spinal cord injuries came to an abrupt end last week, just days after it began.
The 22-year-old Stratford native started out from Kenora, Ont. on Sunday, May 3. Travelling by unicycle, he hoped to ride about 100 kilometres a day until arriving in Windsor in early June.
His goal was to raise $25,000 for the Rick Hansen Foundation.
But just two days into his tour Ferguson began experiencing pain in his knees that would ultimately force him off the road for good.
“I tried so hard to push through (the pain), but it just wasn’t feasible,” said Ferguson from his home in Guelph, where he’s been resting for the last week. “I tried to keep going but I couldn’t do it. It’s disappointing.”
Ferguson was diagnosed with bursitis – the inflammation of the bursa, a sac filled with fluid that decreases friction in the joints – in both of his knees. The injury was caused by the repetitive movement and pressure put on his knees from riding the unicycle for long hours.
Ferguson’s first day on the road went well, but early into day two he started to feel pain in his knees.
“We pushed and pushed and pushed for two hours, and I got 10 kilometres – which is brutal,” he said.
Ferguson was taken to the hospital where he received medication to help manage the pain. But after riding another 30 kilometres the next day he had to pull over for the night. By morning he was unable to put any pressure on his knees and made the difficult decision to end the tour.
While Ferguson’s recovery to date has been frustratingly slow, his spirits were lifted last Thursday when he received a phone call from Hansen himself, who thanked Ferguson for his efforts.
“He told me how proud of me he was, and that he was glad I made the decision to quit instead of really injuring myself permanently.”
Once of all of the cheques have come in the mail, Ferguson said he will have raised about $4,000 through his shortened tour, but he’s also continuing to accept donations online at www.wheelinmotion.ca.
And just like his fundraising, Ferguson hasn’t given up his dream of cycling across the province, and said he hopes to give it another try in a few years.