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Pair of Sudburians taking on 220-km bike ride to raise money for Canadian soldiers

Long-time referee Dan Draper and registered nurse James Lloyd will leave for Trenton at the end of August
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Long-time referee Dan Draper and registered nurse James Lloyd will leave for Trenton at the end of August, the starting point of a two-day 220 kkm trek that will be completed on Sunday, Aug. 26 at Queen's Park in Toronto, site of the Ontario Veterans War Memorial. (Supplied)

A Valley East cycling tandem may have completely different reasons for tackling the challenge that is the Wounded Warriors - Highway of Heroes Bike Ride later this month, but it is with a collective front that they are approaching this journey.

Long-time referee Dan Draper and registered nurse James Lloyd will leave for Trenton at the end of August, the starting point of a two-day 220 kkm trek that will be completed on Sunday, Aug. 26 at Queen's Park in Toronto, site of the Ontario Veterans War Memorial.

For Draper, a long-time member of the Canadian armed forces who has remained actively involved in trying to assist veterans wounded in combat and/or dealing with countless other issues, this fundraising initiative is just the latest opportunity that has caught his fancy.

"Last year, I wanted to do it, but I had broken ribs," said the 54 year-old man. "James had talked about doing a paramedics ride. I approached him about the idea of the Wounded Warriors, given that funds raised help first responders as well.

"We teamed up, such that we are both doing it as a solo ride, but we are also doing it as a team (Valley Boys)." 

In fact, a requirement of the ride is that cyclists must fundraise at least $1,250, though entering as a two-man team allows the Draper/Lloyd duo to simply look towards a grand total of $2,500, between them, in order to reach that goal.

"They don't take more than one hundred riders, and we are the only two from Sudbury." 

If the broken ribs, last summer, were something of a setback for Draper, they pale in comparison to the hurdles that his partner in crime has faced in the past five years or so.

Diagnosed with tongue and neck cancer in 2013, Lloyd was showing encouraging progress when we was felled by a heart attack in 2017. This January, he dealt with another cardiac event. At the same time, an angiogram in April discovered lung cancer, in addition to the significant blockage just above the stent they had originally installed.

Given the assortment of health-related issues the 50 year old local man is dealing with, why would he throw himself into a venture that is sure to push the limits of his current fitness and athletic well-being?

"I've been through all of this nonsense with my health and I want to feel normal," Lloyd said. "I can't run, I wasn't a good hockey player. I enjoy golf, but I am not a great golfer. Biking is something that anybody can do, within reason. There's been days where I don't want to go out on the bike to train, but once I am out there, I love it. My problems are gone." 

Interestingly enough, the core motivation for this particular undertaking, for Lloyd, has more to do with his occupation than his on-going personal health issues.

"I was actually at the paramedics ride a few years ago, but not riding," he said. "They want to build a monument in Ottawa to honour first responders who have died in the course of duty. The monies raised can also go towards helping first responders who are dealing with PTSD or who may be suicidal."

Dan Draper and James Lloyd may have their own separate reasons for cycling the Highway of Heroes fundraising event, but there is clearly a very lengthy list of good reasons to do it.

Anyone interested in helping out the local cyclists can visit the website www.woundedwarriors.ca and search for Highway of Heroes Bike Ride under the Events heading. In addition to providing plenty of answers to questions about the initiative, donations can also be made using either the Sudbury riders' individual names or team name.




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