Tony Fazeli (left) and Tyler Waddell at the Phoenix Society recovery centre in Surrey on Monday (June 15), for the start of their “Light the Pathway” ride to Whitehorse this summer. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Pals start ‘Light the Pathway’ ride from Surrey to Whitehorse this summer

Send-off from Phoenix Society, where Tyler Waddell and Tony Fazeli met two years ago

A 3,000-kilometre bike ride got rolling from the place in Surrey where two guys became friends.

Less than two years ago, Tyler Waddell and Tony Fazeli met at Phoenix Society and got the counselling they needed for the next journey in their lives.

On Monday (June 15), in the recovery centre’s parking lot on 94A Avenue, the pair prepared for a second “Light the Pathway” ride from Vancouver to Whitehorse, with Waddell’s nine-year-old son Dylan along for the charity ride.

Fazeli, who has used a wheelchair for 16 years, will ride a handcycle north over the next couple of months.

“I know it’s crazy but that’s why I’m going to do it,” Fazeli said. “I’m just going to get in there and do it. I’ve had a handcycle for seven years, and originally we were going to go from Yukon and come down here, but we’re doing it the other way around now.”

Waddell did a similar charity bike ride last year, and Fazeli was inspired to join him this summer, in an effort to raise funds for Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

Dylan, in a pledge-per-kilometre ride, will raise money for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“I’ll be driving the van this year,” Tyler explained, “because my driver broke his arm. So this time I’ll be helping Tony along and helping my son. I’ll ride a bit, too, and will do a bunch of drone work, to film everything. I want to build a documentary about what we’ve went through, and we have over 300 minutes of interviews about mental health from last year, with people we met along the way.”

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Fazeli was paralyzed in the mid-2000s.

“I had a tumour in my neck, my spine, and by the time they found out where it was and the damage it caused, I was paralyzed by it,” he said.

Fifteen years later, he found Phoenix Society and stayed for close to six months.

“It healed me from a lot of my childhood trauma,” Fazeli said. “I kind of re-found myself again, especially with the mental health and what that was doing to me. Today it’s just good to be back here and see the people who have been part of our journey from Phoenix and into a new way of life, in a way of thinking. It’s a way of saying thank-you to them too.”

The charity ride will involve riding 80 to 100 kilometres a day – “a couple of marathons a day, so that’ll be fun,” Fazeli said with a smile. “Everybody’s first reaction is they think it’s crazy, and maybe it is, right. But it’s getting attention because of that, which is good. That’s what this is all about.”

The journey will be chronicled on Light the Pathway’s Facebook page.

“It’s different than last year,” Waddell noted, “because last year it was for mental health and this time it’s for the kids, right. Part of that is showing my son how beautiful life is today in comparison to some of the crappy stuff I’ve went through.

“And Tony, his story is beautiful,” he added. “We went through so much together here, you know, and he’s such a strong person. To put all this together and help him realize his dreams is beautiful as well.”

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