Gee-Gees men’s hockey player John Deacon has been spending his spring training for a grueling test. A 600-kilometre journey by bike from Sarajevo, Bosnia- Herzegovina to Medak, Croatia awaits.
During his second year with the Garnet and Grey, Deacon signed up for the Battlefield Bike Ride in support of Wounded Warriors Canada. He was inspired to do so by his father, who will ride with him on the trip, and by a family friend.
“I have a close family friend who is a police officer suffering from PTSD and she is also trying to raise money and awareness for the cause so that gave me an incentive to participate,” explains the economics student from Port Williams, N.S.
The trip is organized by Wounded Warriors Canada: a national mental health charity whose mission is to honour and support our country’s ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, Veterans, First Responders and their families.
The ride will take cyclists to places of significance to Canadian Armed Forces members and their families who served in the Balkan theatre, culminating at the site of the battle of the Medak Pocket, which took place 25 years ago.
“I have never done a long-distance ride before in my life,” Deacon says. “The longest ride I’ve done is probably an hour or two and on this trip we will be doing around 100km a day for eight days straight.”
The journey, which will take place June 8-16, is designed to honour the service and sacrifice of those brave Canadians who fought there: the 23 Canadians who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Balkans and the thousands whose service left them forever changed with the physical and mental scars of the conflict. Additionally, one of the unique and very special aspects of BBR18 is that the cyclists will have the privilege of riding with Veterans who served in these operations.
“I've never been to Europe so getting the opportunity to go there, support a great cause, and help many people including someone I know personally made me really motivated,” says Deacon.
Funds raised from the Battlefield Bike Ride supports the delivery of our wide range of mental health programs and services for individual members and families affected by Operational Stress Injuries such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Each rider, including Deacon, will raise at least $4,000 for Wounded Warriors through fundraising efforts. Since 2014, the Wounded Warriors Canada Battlefield Bike Ride (BBR) has raised nearly $2 million.
To support John’s ride, visit his fundraising page.