Longboarding community urged to finish cross-Canada ride
Longboarders have been asked to step up and finish a charitable ride across Canada that was interrupted when Brandon Harrison suffered a brain aneurysm in Red Deer.
Harrison is at Foothills Hospital in Calgary after suffering a broken blood vessel that led to a stroke on Sept. 7.
His condition is slowly improving.
The 20-year-old, who had ridden a longboard from Newfoundland to Lake Louise, is now out of intensive care and is starting to communicate, said his father, Michael Floyd, who had accompanied his son on his ride across Canada for Long For Life.
Their non-profit organization supports charitable initiatives to fight cancer, heart and stroke through the sport of longboarding (like skateboarding, only with longer boards).
Harrison “is conscious and there’s awareness, but there is still some paralysis on the left side,” said Floyd, who hopes that since his son can feel his left arm, including the muscle pain, the paralysis will eventually dissipate.
Harrison and Floyd started their 6,400-km cross-Canada longboarding ride in May in St. John’s.
Upon reaching Lake Louise, they took a detour from the route and headed to Floyd’s hometown of Red Deer, where a fundraising event had been planned.
This is where Harrison’s aneurysm occurred — and Floyd is grateful that the emergency happened when they were near a hospital, not in the middle of nowhere: “It’s a blessing.”
Floyd and Harrison, who both live in Calgary, had previously discussed a “contingency plan” about how to proceed if one of them could not finish the ride. “I always thought it would be me, the old man, who might fall down and break his leg,” said Floyd.
Their understanding was the Long for Life charity and the cross-Canada ride “is bigger than us” and must continue, he added.
When the question went out in the longboarding community about whether anyone was interested in finishing the route, several longboarders expressed interest in continuing from where Harrison left off.
Floyd said confirmations must still be made, but the plan is to start out from Lake Louise on Tuesday with whoever is interested in doing all or part of the remaining 1,100 km to Vancouver.
He believes Harrison will be able to finish the ride himself, someday, but for now it’s important to complete the final two-to-three-week leg before there’s snow in the mountains.
Meanwhile, Calgary doctors are considering what can be done to help Harrison, who fought off cancer as a child, and was stricken by a previous aneurysm (unrelated to the cancer) at age 15.
Floyd said the part of his son’s brain that’s affected cannot be accessed by surgery, so physicians are considering using very focused gamma radiation to cauterize the tiny vessels. “It’s astounding that they can do stuff like this.”
He added that Harrison has always has a positive approach in fighting health setbacks. “You have to know, going into this, that you’re going to win,” said Floyd. “There’s no place for fear in that process.”