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Ride raises spinal cord injury awareness

Dave Parke is riding through the province to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries. - Monica Lamb-Yorski photo
Dave Parke is riding through the province to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries.
— image credit: Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Four years ago Dave Parke crashed on his mountain bike in North Vancouver, falling 10 feet to the forest floor.

When he woke up, he was face down and couldn’t move his arms or legs.

Now the 48-year-old film technician, father of two, and recreation student at Langara College, is doing a one-month cycling tour through parts of the province, hoping to raise funds and awareness for Spinal Cord Injury BC.

Parke embarked on his Ride for Spine tour from Dease Lake on June 7 and plans to end up at GF Strong Centre for Rehabilitation on July 17.

During a stop in Williams Lake he said he knows first hand what it’s like to rehabilitate from a spinal injury.

After his crash he spent three and a half months in GF Strong working with a team assigned to come up with a strategic plan for him and during that time decided he wanted to give something back.

“I was in Vancouver and had lots of support but for people living in smaller places it’s difficult to get the supports,” Parke said. “It’s a physical thing for sure, but once you deal with that aspect it becomes a real medical thing.”

In one and a half months he learned how to stand and then slowly learned how to walk again.

And on Oct. 1, 2010 he was discharged and walked out of the hospital, something he’d only dreamed about being able to accomplish.

It took courage to get back on a bicycle, but through the encouragement of one of the physiotherapists at GF Strong, he was riding a bike around the hallways.

Today he finds it more comfortable to ride a bike than walk, he said.

He has deficits in his hands and feet and experiences burning and ghost pains that cause sleeplessness and fatigue.

“My injuries are invisible,” he said.

Spinal Cord Injury BC (SCI BC) is a not-for-profit organization that helps British Columbians with spinal cord injury and their families adapt, adjust, and thrive as they deal with a new injury or struggle with ongoing challenges of living and agin with a physical disability.

Sandra Stuart of Williams Lake has been a peer program co-ordinator with SCI BC for six years

After meeting with Parke she said she’s impressed he’s raising awareness and showing that people with disabilities of whatever kind can still go out and do whatever they want.

“People here have learned to live their lives without a lot of supports,” Stuart said. “I know a few people who have spinal cord injuries who are very active in the community and don’t let their injuries slow them down much.”

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