Anja Rietdorf thought about her fundraising bike ride for three years and planned every detail for a year-and-a-half.
“I wanted to do a fundraiser for children with developmental disabilities because my younger brother has developmental disabilities and I wanted to do something for my new country,” said Rietdorf, who moved to Canada from Germany three years ago.
Everything fell into place. She arranged to have all donations for her ride to go to a Canadian charity that helps children with special needs, got local help with supplies for her bike and bike trailer, bought a truck to follow her and had a support team to drive the truck.
They started out from Victoria May 12 and things went according to plan for the 3,500 kilometres to Winnipeg in early June. Then things were not working out with the support team and Rietdorf was left with the bike, trailer and truck. The charity withdrew its support when she told it she would go on to complete the ride alone.
“I was upset and disappointed and thought I would have to give up. I was so close to giving up. Then I said to myself, ‘I am not a quitter. I will try with just me and my bike and my little trailer. Then I can say I did my best.’ People encouraged me through my website and that inspired me. I got the supplies I needed, parked my truck at a friend’s place and went on.
“I’m impressed by all the kind and helpful people, some with kids with disabilities, that I met. The right people came at the right time to help me. It was a challenge going on alone and having to make all the decisions myself but I grew and found my own strength. I know now when you put your mind to something you can do anything. I’m happy I didn’t give up.”
Rietdorf said the experience turned out to be so much more meaningful than she could have hoped, changing her life in a positive way.
“I met so many great people across this beautiful country who were helping me and everyone taught me something. I believe everything has a reason in our life, sometimes we see or realize it a day, a week, a month or years later.
“To finish my bike ride this way, showed me my strength and my beliefs in myself and God/the Universe. My life is so much more enjoyable now, because I know I can do anything and do not have any reason to worry about my future.”
Rietdorf finished her ride Aug. 10 at St. John’s, Nfld., for total of 8,293 km.
“I don’t know how much money the ride raised for the charity. My next goal is to have my own foundation to help people with disabilities of all ages to fulfill their dreams. And I would like to do another ride in the opposite way in a few years to raise money for my foundation once it is established,” she said, adding that all donations made to the charity in her name will be spent on its work with children with disabilities.
Rietdorf would like to extend her thanks to everyone who supported and encouraged her, in particular Olympia Cycle & Ski, Kal Tire, Wayside, Vernon Vintners and Randi from Naturally Yours.
Rietdorf is having a Welcome Back Potluck Sunday at 5 p.m. at The People Place (3402-27th Ave., Vernon), which will include a presentation on the ride.