NEW GLASGOW – The YMCA of Pictou County held a ceremony to honour the Craig Gives Back tour on Saturday, but all Craig Aucoin, Lloyd McLean and Bob MacDonald wanted to do was to thank the Y.
© AMANDA JESS - THE NEWS
The YMCA of Pictou County honoured the trio from the Craig Gives Back-2-Back bicycle tour on Dec. 14. Pictured is YMCA of Pictou County CEO Dave MacIntyre, left, Craig Aucoin, Bob MacDonald, Lloyd McLean and Paul Atta, membership director for the YMCA.
“If it wasn’t for these three charities, I don’t think I’d be here today,” Aucoin said of the YMCA, CNIB and Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Aucoin, McLean and MacDonald wrapped up their 8,200 km fundraising bike tour in October.
The YMCA presented the three men with plaques and one-year memberships to thank them for their support.
“We wanted to take the opportunity to present them and acknowledge their accomplishments,” YMCA of Pictou County CEO Dave MacIntyre said.
The trio also brought along photos and shared stories of their trip.
“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment,” McLean said, adding that the group is very grateful for Pictou County, the Kinsmen Club and other groups in the area that supported them.
Although the trip wasn’t without injuries and close calls, McLean says he wouldn’t change a thing.
For both MacDonald and McLean, Montreal was their favourite part of the trip, especially meeting different tandem bike clubs.
“We were honoured to ride with them and they were honoured to ride with us,” MacDonald said.
Aucoin personally loved Newfoundland, despite getting injured there.
“The first thing I noticed was the people were awesome,” he said, adding that they were always so friendly, and trustworthy.
Many stopped them on the side of the highway to chat and give donations.
They often recognized him from the commercial Empire Theatres played during the month of July.
This helped to fuel the fire for Aucoin, not that he needed it.
There’s no stopping him once he puts his mind to a goal.
“You could say I’m living my dream,” he says, adding that he always dreamt about being strong.
He says he used to be a negative person with little strength, no balance and weighing 240 pounds.
Once he accepted the fact that he’s blind, he says, he started focusing on changing his life.
Since that moment 13 years ago, he’s done several triathlons, swim meets, runs and now, a tandem bicycle tour across the country in 85 days.
“I’m ready for anything.”
The men aren’t planning any bike tours right now, but they do have goals set.
McLean says he’d like to see a registry built up for others in the county who have a disability and want to get active.
He says the more volunteers that are available, the easier it is for someone like Aucoin to accomplish their goals.
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda