This is not the best time of year to be walking across the province, but Anne Vant Erve is a woman with a mission.
“I’m lucky that I like the heat,” the 22-year-old student from Fenelon Falls, near Lindsay, said Monday in a telephone interview from Kingston, where she is continuing a walk from Windsor to Ottawa that will take her through Brockville later this week.
Vant Erve, who is studying human kinetics at the University of Ottawa, is walking to raise money for, and awareness of, people with spinal cord injuries. She has dubbed her walk the Road to Recovery.
She decided on the walk after her friend, Travis Iverson, of Ottawa, was rendered a quadriplegic as a result of an accident in the summer of 2003. Travis, who was 21 at the time, was at his cottage when he mistakenly dove into shallow water and broke his neck.
“I felt right away the need to do something to help his family out,” said Vant Erve.
The family’s home could not be retrofitted to accommodate Travis’s wheelchair, so the Iversons had to buy a new home and remodel it, she said.
Assistive devices are another financial burden and the family also needs a vehicle that is wheelchair accessible, said Vant Erve.
Half of the walk’s net proceeds will help support the Iverson family, while the rest will go to the Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation for spinal cord injury research, she said.
So far, she has raised about $22,000, she said, adding it’s less than she expected, given the number of people who pass her by on a day’s walk.
“It’s a matter of getting people aware of what we’re doing out there,” she said.
“We’re definitely hoping to get a little more attention … on the home stretch of the trip.”
Since she set out from Windsor May 23, Vant Erve has met many people with stories to tell about spinal cord injuries and the way they affect their lives.
While she has always loved walking, Vant Erve said she was inspired by a television program about “Jesse’s Journey,” a cross-Canada walk for research into muscular dystrophy and other genetic disorders.
Vant Erve, whose mother, Barb, is among the people helping her out from an RV following behind her, does not walk every day, since she often stays in selected spots to continue fund-raising.
Today, she expects to walk from Gananoque to Mallorytown.
She will drive to Brockville for a fund-raising stop at the Canadian Tire outlet Thursday, starting around 10 a.m. and running most of the day. On Friday, she will continue the walk, leaving Mallorytown at 9 a.m. and proceeding along County Road 2 to Bartholomew Street in Brockville.
She leaves from that point Saturday at 9 a.m., heading to the Prescott-Ogdensburg Bridge.
Published in Section A, page 4 in the Wednesday, July 20, 2005 edition of the Brockville Recorder & Times.
By RONALD ZAJAC – Staff Writer