Blind Cyclist Raising Money for Special Olympics

Richard Holloway is cycling across Canada with the help of his nephew, Aaron Matthews. Holloway has only six per cent vision. He is raising money for the Special Olympics.

Jul 18, 2009
By: Heidi Ulrichsen – Sudbury Northern Life

Richard Holloway said he believes disabled people can make a difference in the world, and he’s cycling across Canada to prove it.

The Brampton, Ontario resident, who has only six per cent vision, is making the trek on a recumbent tandem bicycle on behalf of the Canadian Progress Club (a service club) to raise money and awareness for the Special Olympics.

“We’re doing it in support of athletes with disabilities and intellectually challenged athletes. I coach the Special Olympics,” he said.“We’re doing it to raise awareness and to say ‘Just because you have a disability, doesn’t mean that you can’t do the things that you dream of’.”

The Canadian Progress Club Across Canada Ride, which began in Victoria, British Columbia June 7, will end in St. John’s Newfoundland on the Labour Day weekend. Holloway reached Sudbury July 17, and left the city for Huntsville July 18.

He is joined on the trip by his wife, Anna, who is driving the support van, nephew Aaron Matthews, who cycles at the front of the bike, and friend Don Simmons, who is documenting the trip on video and also does some cycling.

Holloway and Matthews cycled around Georgian Bay last summer, and decided to trek across the country this summer.

“It was so rewarding that we decided we wanted to do it on a bigger scale,” said Holloway.

Although Holloway trained all winter in preparation for the trip, he said he’s found it gruelling at times. He jokes that he’ll be in excellent shape when his blind hockey team, the Toronto Ice Owls, starts its practices again in the fall.

“There’s days when we’ve ridden 170 kilometres…Anybody can go out and ride 170 kilometres today. But you need to get up tomorrow and do it the next day and the next day.”

Holloway said he and his companions have seen all kinds of wildlife, including grizzly bears, black bears, elk, moose, bobcats, deer and wolves.

They nicknamed one black bear they encountered Winnie because they came across it near White River, Ontario, the home of the real-life Winnie the Pooh.

“We were just outside of White River, and Aaron and I were cycling. Anna was right behind us with the support vehicle, and she saw something run through the field,” he said.

“Just as we approached a bunch of wooden posts with wiring across, a little black bear stood on the post and peeked at us. We were really close. He saw us and turned and ran away.”

Holloway said he still has enough vision to appreciate Canada’s beauty.

“I enjoyed seeing something I’ve seen my whole life in a photo – Lake Louise. It’s more spectacular than you could ever imagine.”

Matthews, 21, said he joined his uncle on the trip because he wants to experience as much as he can while he’s still young and isn’t tied down to a career.

“I met this guy from Australia when we went to a sandwich bar. He was 23. He got up one morning and moved to Canada. He’s in Banff right now and is having a great time. He told me ‘Your career is always there for you. Before you jump into that, have a good time when you’re young and travel’.”

Holloway is collecting pledges on his website, All money raised will be given to Special Olympics organizations in the region where it was originally donated.

Reproduced from