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Atwood teen taking on 150-km bike trek for charity

Atwood resident Colin Williams is planning on cycling 150 kilometres from his hometown to Collingwood on June 27 in an effort to raise money for the Children’s Health Foundation. (Dan McNee photo)

Colin Williams seeking donations to benefit Children’s Health Foundation

ATWOOD – When most folks will just be rising and thinking sleepily about that first cup of coffee on a Sunday morning, Colin Williams will already be in the thick of it on June 27.

Starting at 6 a.m., the 18-year-old Atwood resident is planning on cycling 150 kilometres from his hometown to Collingwood on that day, in an effort to raise money for the Children’s Health Foundation, which provides funding for institutions like Sick Kids Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre. Williams, a Grade 12 student at Listowel District Secondary School, is an avid cyclist and sports enthusiast who first began thinking about a way to contribute some serious funds for a serious cause close to his heart around Christmas last year.

“I was just thinking of kind of an interesting way of giving back,” said Colin, the son of Dean and Bonnie Williams. “I also wanted to give myself a new excuse to get on my bike more. I thought this would be a cool idea so I reached out to some people and got the ball rolling, and it’s been really good so far. I’ve been training six days a week on my bike, it’s been good.”

Williams has launched a GoFundMe page entitled ‘Biking for Health’ in an effort to raise donations. As of press time, he has brought in $3,670.

While he is still drawing up his route to Collingwood, Williams plans on utilizing both main and back roads to complete the approximate distance of 150 km, which features a number of challenging elevation changes along the way.

“I was worried that it wouldn’t be quite enough distance, but I know that the elevation going up to Collingwood would be more of a challenge for me to get up there, so I thought that would be a good place to go,” he said. “It’s a little bit more quiet than if I went down to London. I picked a place where I wouldn’t have to be constantly looking over my shoulder to see if I was getting too close to vehicles.”

Williams accessed the assistance of a London cycling coach in February to help him prepare for the undertaking, which will be the longest he has ever attempted. He has previously completed 100 km on three separate occasions.

“I think it’s going to be more mental,” he admitted. “A couple of my friends are going to try and bike with me for a little bit, but I know that they’re not going to last with me forever. So, I’ve just got to keep myself in the right headspace for it, not let myself go into the negative aspects of it, and just keep pushing.”

Thanks to a British Columbia-based athletics company, Williams will be outfitted with new shorts and a jersey for the trek, and will also receive donated items to include in a silent auction to further boost his fundraising total. Donation and silent auction (forthcoming) details are available by visiting gofundme.com and searching ‘Biking for Health’.

Williams knows many family members and friends who have needed to utilize health care services for children in the past – Williams himself was one of them. It makes the undertaking especially close to his heart.

“There’s been a lot of people who have donated because of personal reasons,” he said. “This is going to be a mental and physical challenge, and I know that’s what happens to families too when they have kids that need to go to the hospital for different reasons – surgery or cancer treatments – things like that.

“I’ve been there, and I know that there are a lot of kids who have been a lot more worse off than I was, and I just want to find a way to give back to them.”