Ralf Jarchow was a man on a mission.
In the summer of 2011 he set out on a journey across Canada from Calgary, Alberta, to his home in Bramton, Ontario — a distance of 3,400 kilometers or 2,110 miles. On his bicycle. Inspired by his 18 year old daughter Megan, Ralf was undertaking this grueling test of endurance to raise funds and awareness for BFS.
Megan’s own journey started at age eight when she was diagnosed with a rare, chronic autoimmune disease called Ocular Cicatricial Pemphigoid (OCP). She was seen by a series of specialists but, over time, the OCP was causing her increasing pain and threatening her sight; nothing seemed to stop its progression. Until 2010 when she was referred to BFS and Dr. Alan Kwok for PROSE treatment.
Today, Megan is a happy, thriving university student. Her experience at BFS inspired her to help others and pursue a nursing degree.
Ralf recalled Megan’s visit and their time spent in the patient lounge, sharing meals and conversation with other families. There he met Jesse, age six, a Stevens Johnson syndrome survivor. His mother Jane had traveled halfway around the world from Ghana to try to save her son’s sight. Ralf was struck by the lengths that the medical team went to in helping this young boy: “I felt BFS was a marvelous organization and if I could do anything to help others, I would.”
And the idea for Ralf’s Ride was born.
Ralf’s background in kinesiology, long-distance cycling and marathon running came in handy. He planned to cycle 8 to 10 hours a day, averaging 125 miles; starting in the cool early mornings, breaking during the heat of the day, and cycling late into the evening. His suggested donation: 10 cents per mile.
Ralf’s ride began July 3rd. His wife Valerie, in constant contact by phone and later following in a support vehicle, chronicled his journey for supporters, friends and family on his blog, Keeping an Eye on Ralf.
Day 1: The adventure starts!!
Day 7: At the border of Saskatchewan and North Dakota. Day cooler; wind favourable. Saddle bags checked by border guard...Not exactly a Hell’s Angel but Ralf likes to think of himself as a (road) biker now.
Day 10: The day started out great but became his most frustrating. Four flats but who’s counting? (Ralf is.) After the fourth flat Ralf walked the last two miles into town.
Day 15: Ralf may look into replacing cycling with something more sedentary like Yoga when he gets home.
Day 22: Ralf’s Welcome Home Celebration! Total miles biked: 2112. Total raised for BFS: $22,697!
"A big thank you for supporting Ralf's Ride. You have helped change lives for the better. God Bless."
— Ralf, Valerie and Megan