Daughters biking to make a difference

Leah Paukstaitis and Claire Dreidger
Leah Paukstaitis and Claire Dreidger raised nearly $10,000 and completed a cycling endurance challenge in honour of their dads, who are both living with Parkinson’s.

Leah Paukstaitis and Claire Dreidger have a lot in common. They’ve been friends for many years, are both first year college students, and enjoy an active lifestyle. In , after years of enjoying each other’s company, they found new common ground. Leah’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s that year, while Claire’s father has been living with Parkinson’s for a number of years.

Daughters (and sons) across the country will be honouring their dads this month in acknowledgment of Father’s Day. Leah and Claire did the same – with a unique challenge. They completed a cycling endurance challenge together.

Before the ride, they had mixed feelings. “We are biking 100 kilometers, and are both excited and nervous,” said Claire. “It seems a bit daunting. We normally bike for fun but never anything of this magnitude. Setting a challenging goal was important. We wanted to underline the challenges that people living with Parkinson’s face and that, even if you’re tired and ready to quit, you can’t give up. We hope our ride is symbolic of the challenges experienced by both our fathers and many parents, children and siblings around the world every day”.

Leah and Claire rode a 100-kilometer route from Chelsea, Quebec to Ottawa, Ontario that crossed highways, rivers, mountains, and forests.

It all started with that as the main idea. They were both a little nervous and found the idea of fundraising daunting, but had seen the impact that others made in raising awareness and funds with creative events during COVID-19. A family friend is an active Parkinson Canada SuperWalk participant and made a helpful connection to Parkinson Canada. A few route plans, fundraising emails and logistical details later and they were off and running.

Now, they’ve raised nearly $10,000 on Parkinson Canada’s Fundraising Your Way platform.

It’s something their dads can both relate to: Claire’s father was an active cyclist when she was younger, and Leah’s father was a regular mountain biker.

They had trained for the challenge. “We [did] a training ride of 50 kilometers and maybe one other trip of 60 kilometers,” Leah shared when preparing for the challenge.

Now that they’ve overcome the challenge, they are both looking back at their fundraising and awareness campaign with a sense of accomplishment. “It feels really empowering and gives me the will to do something like this again,” shares Leah, while Claire adds “It gives me proof I can do things that will make a difference.” Most of all, it feels like a meaningful way to share with their fathers that they care and to make a difference. “We love our dads want to do whatever we can.”

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