Pedal Powered Care
When the wheels come off on the life you planned it can be hard to get back in the saddle, but Craig Taylor is challenging that notion, getting on his bike and riding nearly 300km this summer in honour of his daughter Meghan who was born at 25 weeks gestation.
Craig and his partner Jacqueline Steel were having a seemingly normal pregnancy when they went in for a fetal echo-cardiogram at 22 weeks. Though the baby was fine the doctors spotted a potential problem and Jacqueline was put on bed rest. Two weeks later she had another ultra-sound and was immediately admitted to the hospital where she received steroids to help develop the baby's lungs. Able to hold on for five more days, Jacqueline had an emergency c-section on 1st May 2011. Meghan, born at 25 weeks and three days, weighed a mere 740g (1lb and 10z) and needed to be resuscitated at birth. Rushed off to the NICU her parents could only wonder if she would be okay.
It was hard for the parents to be away from their newborn daughter, but the hardest part came on day five when Meghan was taken off the ventilator. "She was doing really well," said Jacqueline, "However, she caught an infection and then just couldn't breathe anymore." Doctors re-intubated Megan for another three weeks.
Though it was a setback Meghan was a fighter. "One of the doctors said she was a star pupil and that made us feel much better," said Jacqueline. "Meghan also had great primary nurses at both locations which made it a bit easier to leave her, although we still worried non-stop." Meghan spent four and a half months in the NICU before finally going home with her happy parents. Now 14 months (or one year adjusted) she is a happy, healthy baby.
With Meghan safe at home the couple wanted to give back. "At the end of last year Jacqueline and I talked about doing something where we could raise some money for the NICU as they had done so much for us," said Craig. After discussing options they decided to do the Sport Chek Mother's Day Run and Walk with Craig running and Jacqueline walking with Meghan.
"I was just about to start training for that when a colleague of mine at RHi Alberta approached me asking if I was interested in joining the company cycling team," said Craig, "I was immediately interested as I love cycling much more than the running. So I jumped at the chance, got myself a road bike, and started training."
With training underway the team also took the time to set up fundraising through the Calgary Health Trust. "It was an easy decision, said Craig, "We had already personally donated to the Health Trust so we contacted them to ask how we went about such a thing as a charity bike ride." Staff at the Trust set them on the right path, created a web page and were supportive helping to steer the team through the set up. So far the team has been able to raise $7,732 towards their $10,000 goal.
Early in 2012 the RHi Alberta team had decided to take part in two Gran Fondos, a term which loosely translated from Italian means "big ride". The rides are often a hundred kilometres or more and designed for a large number of cyclists at a variety of skill levels. "I figured it would be a great opportunity to fundraise and an excellent opportunity to get in shape." said Craig. "Our team consists of five riders in total; myself, Finlay McLay, Dave Reed, Don McTavish and Shane Dench."
Leading up to the first ride, the 147 kilometre Highwood Pass Gran Fondo, the team ran into some problems training, namely the rain. "The weather wasn't too kind in June in particular," said Craig, "we managed to get several kilometres in before the big event so we felt prepared." But the ride was still intense.
Three hundred riders took part in the Highwood Pass Gran Fondo. Starting in Longview early the morning of July 7, the riders spent the next 10 hours negotiating intense elevation changes and the wildlife before arriving at the Stoney Nakoda Resort near Exshaw. "We had to avoid Bighorn Sheep," laughed Craig. Animals on the road weren't the only thing that Mother Nature threw at them that day, "Towards the end of the ride it began to get hotter; however we replenished our water supply, ensured we kept well hydrated and made it to the finish."
Craig thinks the next ride, the Banff Gran Fondo which takes place on August 24, will be a little easier. "It is slightly shortly in distance than the Highwood Pass and has less elevation changes. As part of our training we have done almost all sections of the route and it takes us through some beautiful parts of the country."
"Honestly, I would encourage anyone to do this kind of event - it is physically and to a degree mentally challenging however completing it gives a great sense of achievement which is enhanced further by knowing that you are raising money and it is going to such a great cause."
And as a proud father Craig has the best reason to get back in the saddle this month, "Meghan was and is the most amazing fighter, but without these people and the hospital equipment our daughter would not be alive today, nor would she be developing as well as she is doing."
Funds raised by the team for the Highwood Gran Fondo and the Banff Gran Fondo will be divided equally between the Foothills Medical Centre and Rockyview NICU's.