YORKTON – Sgt Rob Nederlof from Canadian Forces Base Shilo made a stop in the city on the 17 of August as part of his 1,000 km fundraising cycling trek.
"I am trying to raise awareness and donations for Wounded Warriors PTSD support dog program," said Nederlof in an interview with Yorkton This Week.
"Wounded Warriors Canada is a national mental health service provider offering a range of clinically facillitated programs developed to support the unique needs of Veterans, First Respsonders and their families," read a brochure from WWC.
Nederlof started his journey in Edmonton on August 11 and is set to conclude it on August 19 when he reaches Minnedosa.
Nederlof, along with his wife Marina who drives a car packed with supplies, have made several stops along the way at different communites across the prairies.
Nederlof said that their fundraising goal of $7,000 had already been met, but that there was always room for more.
"We've reached our goal but that doesn't mean that the needs have been met," said Nederlof, adding,
"it costs $15,000 – roughly – to train a dog, so $ 7,000 is a drop in the bucket."
The ogranization provides 100 service dogs per year to people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"It's not just people – military, first responders – the first line workers and their families is who Wounded Warriors helps," said Nederlof.
As far as the journey goes, Nederlof said he's been well prepared for it.
"I cycle a lot – I cycle to work every day – which is a round trip of 52 km," said Nederlof, adding, "other days, when I feel like cycling, I'll do a long cycle and ride for about 100 KM or so."
Nederlof said he's been averaging 30 KM/hr on his Cervelo road bike during the trek.
"It's all carbon fiber – pretty light," said Nederlof, adding, "it's a road bike...built sort of for racing...for speed," and "the weight of it is only 20 pounds, so really light."
In terms of safety while navigating the prairie roads, Nederlof said he hasn't had any issues.
"The Saskatchewan roads have been really good," said Nederlof, adding, "the truckers and stuff – they're always moving over for me – drivers are really respectful."
Nederlof's next stop is in Russel, Man. on the 18 and will leave for Minnedosa from Russel on the 19.
When asked what encouraged him to pursue the fundraising effort, Nederlof said that it was personal experience.
"I'm not going to go into detail...it was something that I had issues with and I was thinking about it, and I said, 'you know support dogs are something that anybody can use'."
"Support dogs are there for a reason – like when a person starts getting anxiety or whatever is starting to trigger that person with their PTSD – that dog can come in and distract them...I find it a really good program...cause a lot of time they go deep into a hole and they can't get out and the dog is there to help them." said Nederlof.
For more information on Wounded Warriors Canada, visit their website.