Local hero set to roll into town

Winnipeg might have Terry Fox and Port Alberni might have Rick Hansen, but Whitehorse has Ramesh Ferris.

Winnipeg might have Terry Fox and Port Alberni might have Rick Hansen, but Whitehorse has Ramesh Ferris.

Ferris, an adopted son of Whitehorse, recently finished a long journey easily comparable to Fox’s Marathon of Hope or Hansen’s Man in Motion tour.

“Rick Hansen and Terry Fox are my heroes,” said Ferris. “They are very inspiring people who had dreams of helping the world with their own causes.”

In April, Ferris set out on the Cycle to Walk campaign, a 173-day journey from Victoria, BC to Cape Spear, Nfld. The campaign raised roughly $300,000 towards his goal of eradicating polio, a disease that paralyzed Ferris’ legs as a very young child.

“If we choose not to continue the efforts to eradicate polio, 10 million children will be paralyzed in the next 40 years, and I don’t want to see that happen,” said Ferris, who rode a three-wheeled hand-bike powered by his robust upper body. “My dream is a polio-free world and I’m not going to stop until we’re polio-free.”

In 2002, Ferris visited his native country of India, a nation that has only recently made significant progress against the disease with immunization campaigns. His time there “very much” inspired him to begin the Cycle to Walk campaign.

“I witnessed the realities of how people with polio are living outside of Canada,” said Ferris. “What I saw was horrific. I saw polio survivors on the ground, crawling.”

Cycle to Walk is not only about eradication, however; 20 per cent of the funds raised will go to rehabilitation of survivors in undeveloped countries and five per cent will be used to educate people about the deadly disease.

“I know that polio survivors around the world are receiving braces and crutches so they don’t have to crawl on the ground,” said Ferris. “Those are my dreams.”

According to Ferris, education of polio must extend beyond poor nations, reaching even wealthy countries such as Canada.

“Eleven per cent of this country’s population hasn’t received a polio vaccination,” explained Ferris. “That puts us at a high risk of future polio outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization.”

Ironically, Ferris describes the feelings he had as he finished his journey as being akin to starting a race instead of finishing one.

“I’m just so excited to move on to the next chapter of my life and the next journey, and that’s sharing the message further and educating more people on an international level,” said Ferris.

Continuing his altruistic work, Ferris is now turning to his next project, creation of the Ramesh Ferris Polio Foundation.

“I see this as being an international foundation, which will continue to raise funds and awareness for polio eradication, education and rehabilitation,” said Ferris.

Of course, a journey of such magnitude has filled Ferris with memories that will last a lifetime, but one in particular stands out.

“There was a young boy who was cycling up one of my last hills in Newfoundland, and he said to me, ‘So you’re completing Terry Fox’s dream,’” said Ferris. “I didn’t really know what to say. He said, ‘You can do it, keep going. I’ll be there with you.’

“That just made me feel really good.”

During his travels, Ferris met with a multitude of politicians, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But perhaps, the most inspirational encounter Ferris had took place before the journey began — meeting Rick Hansen at the start of last year.

“Your vision and commitment to raising funds and awareness for the global eradication of polio as well as for education and the rehabilitation of individuals living with polio is truly to be commended,” Rick Hansen wrote in a letter to Ferris.

“I’m excited to come back to Whitehorse and celebrate the success of the Cycle to Walk campaign,” said Ferris, who will be speaking Thursday morning and then cycle with local students starting from the Transportation Museum in Whitehorse at 11:15 am.

“Cycle to Walk was my dream, a community’s dream, a territory’s dream and now it’s a country’s dream.”

 

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

Air North president Joe Sparling said the relaxing of self-isolation rules will be good for the business, but he still expects a slow summer. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)
Air North president expects a slow summer

Air North president Joe Sparling suspects it will be a long time before things return to pre-pandemic times

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

Most Read