Five of us sat on the floor of Nick’s room one night, almost a year ago now, after visiting Shim (Mathew Szymanowski) in the hospital.
For most, it was our first time seeing him in the bed. We sat afterward, crying. Someone said, “You just never think it’ll be one of us,” and he was right. We didn’t. And now it was and we had no idea what we could do.
At some point, Sam Horn, Nick Monette and Cole Glover figured it out. After Shim’s accident, from which he suffered a severed spinal cord in his neck resulting in paralysis from the injury down, the boys decided to do Shim’s Ride.
The goal was to raise money for Shim’s rehab. Specifically, to raise enough to send him to Thailand for an Epidural Stimulator implant.
Dusk till dawn till dusk
From dusk till dawn, till dusk again, the three rode. Behind them, a community larger than they could have hoped for cheered them on.
In our physically distanced world, such togetherness could only be inspired by someone like Shim.
The outpouring of support from the community has been outstanding. With the help of individuals and brands such as Jakroo (who helped raise $20,000), the three managed to generate over $75,000 for Shim.
A tribute is in order to thank the other fundraising partners as well! Thank you Elevenspeed Coffee, Hoyne/Liquor Plus, Le Crocodile, South East Quarter, Oak Bay Bikes and Dockside Physio! Without your help, the boys’ effort could not have been such a success.
“The success of the fundraiser gives me a lot of motivation to push myself in rehab,” says Shim. “I know that it will be a lot of work but with everyone behind me it will make it a lot easier to find the strength needed to push myself.
“Even though the goal has been reached, people are still donating and purchasing jerseys. It just shows how many people want to help me. I was on FaceTime with everyone as the guys rolled in at the end of the ride.
“It truly made my heart full seeing the amount of people there. I can’t thank everyone enough for all their contributions. I wish I could’ve been there. Maybe next year since there are plans to make it an annual event!”
Fuelled by support from friends. And caffeine
Curious about how the boys managed to ride 500 km, I inquired on what the three struggled with and what kept them moving for 17 hours… It was basically Tim Hortons.
“I feel like from the start, we knew Shim was behind us and that we would be able to complete what we set out to do in his honour.” Says Monette. “This was apparent 480km into the ride (shortly after meeting up with the Wheelers Crew) on arguably the hardest climb of the day out of Shawnigan. Sam and I pushed the pace, trading pulls, and all I could picture were Shim’s quads pumping away 10 meters up the hill, which numbed the pain.”
Sam and Cole, agreed that meeting the Victoria Wheelers was fundamental in motivating them through the final stretch. Cole’s grandparents and many relatives greeted them with loud cheers at that point too. “It felt like it was a brand new ride and we all had new life.”
“I think Saturday morning as the sun was coming up in Courtenay was the hardest part, ” adds Sam Horn, “Super fatigued and it was freezing cold but very scenic at the same time. Some good chuckles and the thought of eating Tims kept us going.”
Glover struggled at that point as well: “The most challenging part of the ride for me was getting to, and leaving Courtney Tim Horton’s. Something came over me (maybe it was the 280 km we’d just ridden in the dark and cold?). I was the most cracked I’d ever been. However, knowing that Shim, and his family were watching us traverse the island through our spot tracker, I knew I couldn’t give up. I wouldn’t give up on them. Some salt, a double-double, and a micro-nap may have also helped.”
“We’re lucky to have had a support vehicle (thank you Oak Bay Bikes, Emma, and Chloe) which provided us with warm clothing and food.” Cole added.
“Pretty cliche to say, but the success of this fundraiser is entirely a result of the awesome community.” Horn continued.
Cole sums up that shared sentiment perfectly when he retells how it felt to end the ride:
“I got pretty emotional when we were rolling home. A larger group of riders wearing the Shim’s Ride kit joined us for the final stretch, and it seemed like more and more just kept tacking on. We had a tonne of people supporting us, but to see the numbers like that in person was different. I wish Shim was there to see it too. I wish he was there for the entire ride. He wouldn’t have missed a beat!
“Rolling into Windsor Park was like a dream. I couldn’t believe the amount of people that showed up. We even got a champagne shower. I’m so glad we got to video chat with Shim afterward, and that he was able to witness the support that he’s got behind him.”
Building off the momentum: Shim’s Ride goes annual
Sam, Nick, Cole and Shim were unanimous in saying that they’d like to keep the ride going. An annual, and more reasonably distanced ride such as the infamous Big Loop (don’t worry, that’s only 300 km) with a BBQ finish, raising funds for Spinal Cord Injury BC through continued sponsorship (from their amazing sponsors) and fresh kit.
Shim would be the face, and the goal would be to raise money for others in similar situations.
Covid permitting, Shim will soon fly to Thailand to receive his Epidural Stimulation Treatment. Thank you to Sam, Nick and Cole for taking initiative, and thank you to everyone who contributed!
Shim, we’re all behind you, brother. So much love. You’ve got this.