Canadian Morgan Van Breda has completed a 3900 km, 49-day cycling tour across India. Amazingly, she peddled the whole way with her hands!
Van Breda, who lives in Victoria, B.C., suffered a spinal cord injury at 24 while on vacation in Cuba. Since then, she has been living with paraplegia. The lower part of her body, including her legs, is completely paralyzed.
Now, at 32, she has ridden her hand-cycle across varied terrain and incredible distances to raise funds for better access to therapies, a cure for spinal cord injuries, and for her own treatments.
Since her injury, Van Breda has used spinal cord injury therapy, a treatment that is not always covered by insurance companies in Canada. Raising money to make this treatment available to everyone who needs it is one of her main goals.
The grueling cross-India trip started on January 27, 2011 at the world-famous Taj Mahal. Van Breda finished on March 19, after nearly 50 days of exhausting hand-cycling. She was in the race with 30 other cyclists, but Van Breda is the only athlete using a hand-cycle.
She travelled with a group called Tour d’Afrique, and her journey has had a meaningful influence on the group. At the half-way point of the race, she handed out 42 hand-cycles to paraplegics in Mumbai. The machines were donated by the tour company.
Van Breda’s documented her incredible journey on a blog called Morgan’s Ride (morgansride.com). The race is just one part of her broader organization called the Able Project (theableproject.com), which seeks to change the face of spinal cord injury, create awareness about these injuries and educate the public on all recovery possibilities.
Van Breda works with a documentary filmmaker named Erik Zaremba on the Able Project. In addition to regular written and video updates to the blog, Zaremba, who studied film at the University of Western Ontario, is making Morgan’s Ride into a full-length documentary film.
After finishing this particular journey, Van Breda expects there will be many more challenges and initiatives she can undertake to help improve the situation for people suffering with spinal cord injuries. Her commitment to finding a cure for herself and for others is truly remarkable.