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Man cycling for AIDS

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It’s been a long time since Denis Cayouette has been in Lorretteville, Que. But when you schedule a bike trip around North America to fight AIDS and HIV, coming home for supper every night isn’t an option.

Cayouette left home Sept. 29 last year and headed south along the eastern seaboard to Miami, then crossed the southern U.S. to Los Angeles. Then he looped north to Vancouver and headed back east, arriving in Fort Frances last Thursday afternoon.

His stop here was to promote the “Cycling the World for AIDS” project, which he hopes to launch next June. Sponsored by the CWA Foundation at a cost of $2.5 million, a team of bikers plan to ride across Canada, Europe, Africa, the U.S., Japan, and Australia over 18 months in hopes raising $5 million (with half going towards AIDS research after expenses).

“I’m doing it for teenagers because they are the ones who’s going to be affected by [this disease],” Cayouette said.

“We think the same way they do when we were teenagers. We thought life was forever,” he added. “This disease will just take death and put it in your face.”

A father of two teenagers himself, Cayouette said he just woke up one day with an idea of raising HIV and AIDS awareness.

“The drugs out there are not a cure, it’s just there to prolong life,” he stressed. “Each body has a different reaction to the drugs. It gives them problems with the pancreas, kidney. It changes totally the body.”

Cayouette isn’t doing any fundraising during his North America trip, and has no sponsor to help cover his costs while on the road.

But he said he’s been overwhelmed by the kindness people have shown him so far. He’s been offered hot meals and lodging by complete strangers. And in Fort Frances, the United Native Friendship Centre, which has an active AIDS awareness and prevention program, put Cayouette up for the night in a hotel.

Cayouette left Friday morning for Duluth, and plans to cross back in Canada at Sault Ste. Marie.

“I’ve got more than 14,000 km on the road and should be home by the end of July,” he said, noting he’ll be happy to get there.

That will give him about 11 months to raise the $2.5 million needed to fund “Cycling the World for AIDS.” And he intends on doing it.

“Right now in the U.S., they have more than one million kids already infected,” he said. “That means there’s about 100,000 kids in Canada.

“Because of what I’m doing, maybe we’ll open more minds and may save one life,” he added. “That’s my goal.”

Donations can be sent to the CWA Foundation, c/o Deborah Champagne, promoter and project co-ordinator, 200, du Buisson, Loretteville, Que., G2A 1N1.

For more information on the CWA Foundation or Cayouette’s progress, you can phone Champagne at 1-418-847-4590 or e-mail her at dchampagne@avantage.com.

The CWA Foundation also has a web page at www.rmcs.qc.ca

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