It's been nearly three months since cyclist and activist Chris Cull spoke in Sudbury about opioid addiction.
Cull rolled into Sudbury on July 1, in the midst of his cross-Canada ride to inspire, a trek spanning three months from his May 12 departure from Vancouver to his August 11 arrival in Halifax.
He has been making stops along the way to discuss addiction and spreading positive messages.
The message that Chris pushes is that there is always hope and you can overcome anything if you are able to focus all of your effort on it.
That message is visibly evident on Cull, who rode into Sudbury sporting a cast on his right arm, the result of a broken scaphoid bone, an injury he incurred in Thunder Bay.
“I broke it about a week ago but I wasn't able to get the cast on until I got to Sault Ste. Marie,” said Cull. “I just had a temporary splint on it for that part of the ride. The doctor in the Soo was a cyclist as well so he was able to fit me for a cast that I'd be able to ride with.”
That's not to say that the ride has been particularly comfortable however, as the cast has hindered Cull's ability to shift gears on his bike.
“Thankfully the terrain out here isn't nearly as tough as out in the Rockies so it's been alright,” said Cull.
He will depart Sudbury on July 3, making his way east toward his hometown of Bowmanville, where he'll spend some time with family and friends before packing up for the final leg of the trip.
This is Cull's second time making the cross-Canada ride to raise awareness around opioid addiction, but this one has had its share of surprises and obstacles along the way.
“This one has been a lot bigger, I'm doing a lot of media with morning shows on TV, radio, and interviews with newspapers,” said Cull.
“There's also been complications with the RV breaking down a few times.”
Add to that, the number of speaking engagements that Cull has done that mostly pop up on the fly when cities find out that he will be making his way through. He has spoken at a number of addictions recovery centres.*
“There's a lot of First Nations, especially in Manitoba, that are in rough shape pertaining to addiction,” said Cull.
“The who nature of why I'm doing this ride is to get into places like this and show that there is a way out of that life.”
Chris is self-funding the ride, with a GoFundMe account set up and a goal of $10,000. Anything above that total will be donated to the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH).
To follow along with Chris's ride, check out www.inspirebyexample.ca and for more information on opioid addiction visit www.ORbeOK.ca
*The original version of this story stated that Cull had spoken at First Nations communities. Cull has not spoken at any First Nations communities to date, but only mentioned that from what he has observed, addiction is an under-appreciated problem that needs more attention than it is getting.