After pedalling over 750 kilometres, Rayden Seela finally arrived in Thompson Aug. 22 at approximately 2:20 p.m.
As the 14-year-old rode into the southern entrance to the city, a group of supporters by the King Miner Statue congratulated Seela for completing this five-day charity bike ride that began in Winnipeg.
Later, during a celebratory barbecue at MacLean Park, Seela went into more detail about “Rayden’s Ride for Hope” – a campaign to raise money for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
His sister Cheyenne died by suicide in 2017 and Seela said he felt like doing something to honour her memory. After consulting with friends, family and some local educators, the Thompson teen eventually came up with the idea of a charity bike ride, where he would donate all funds to the HOPE North Suicide Prevention Committee.
As of Aug. 23, Seela has raised $3,415 through his Go Fund Me page and he received an additional $1,000 from the local Bomb Squad slo-pitch team during Thursday night’s festivities.
“We just want to thank you for taking this initiative and really setting a goal and persevering,” said HOPE North committee member Liz Lychuk Aug. 22. “You truly are a great role model for other youth and we just couldn’t be more proud.”
On Thursday night, Seela also talked about the bike ride itself, which began Aug. 18 in Winnipeg at 5:30 a.m.
Despite a promising start, the R.D. Parker Collegiate student ran into a big roadblock in the first 100 kilometres, since one of his wheels needed replacing by the time he arrived at Lundar later that day.
“My mom actually got a new wheel for us,” said Seela. “We didn’t have the tools to fix it so she brought it back to Winnipeg and my uncle was able to find some guy who could fix it altogether.”
Seela was back on the road the next day around 3 p.m. and continued riding north with his family following in a truck and camper.
Seela’s father Jeff said they received a lot of attention from passing motorists on Highway 6. While most of these interactions were positive, including encouraging honks and even some in-person donations, he remembers one instance where someone called the cops on their convoy for slowing down traffic.
“We got pulled over, but it was all good,” said Jeff. “They just gave us a nod and a ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ and let us on our way.”
Despite the training and preparation he undertook for this trip, Seela said biking an average of 150 kilometres a day still took a physical toll on his body, resulting in severe back pain.
“But every time I said that I wanted to stop I would just think ‘one more turn, one more kilometre’ and then I kept going,” he said. “And then my music also really helped a lot.”
Jeff said he was in awe of his son pretty much the entire trip and admitted to getting overcome with emotion once they crossed the finish line on Thursday afternoon.
“I was in tears a lot of the time watching him pedal,” he said. “There’s really nothing else I can say except I’m extremely and overwhelming proud of my son.”
During Thursday’s barbecue, Seela told the Thompson Citizen that he is going to keep the Rayden’s Ride for Hope Go Fund Me page active for the next couple weeks to try and reach his fundraising goal of $7,500.