Cyclist to lend helping hands to cause

Red Deer wheelchair athlete Tammy Cunnington plans to stay in shape for triathlon events by helping raise money for two organizations.

Tammy Cunnington works on her bike at her home in Red Deer. Cunnington will ride her hand-powered bike in the Canadian Mental Health Association and Central Alberta Brain Injury Society fundraiser on Aug. 27.

Tammy Cunnington works on her bike at her home in Red Deer. Cunnington will ride her hand-powered bike in the Canadian Mental Health Association and Central Alberta Brain Injury Society fundraiser on Aug. 27.

Red Deer wheelchair athlete Tammy Cunnington plans to stay in shape for triathlon events by helping raise money for two organizations.

Cunnington, 35, will ride her hand-driven cycle 100 km in the Canadian Mental Health Association and Central Alberta Brain Injury Society fundraiser on Aug. 27.

The Berry Architecture Wellness Ride sees participants pay a minimum $225 to ride.

The event starts at the Michener Centre grounds and works its way to Delburne and back, with lunch in Delburne.

“I was just actually looking for something to keep my training up for the summer and that one is 100 km, which is just fine for me,” she said.

She’ll be riding in elite company since celebrity rider Alex Stieda, a Canadian professional cyclist who was the first North American to win the coveted yellow jersey at the Tour de France, several years ago, is riding as well.

Cunnington competes in triathlons and hand cycle racing.

When she was six years old, she was injured and lost the use of her legs when she was hit by an airplane in Ponoka at an airshow.

Cunnington also downhill sit-skis, kayaks and participates in any other sport or activity that she can try.

“I’ve been competing in triathlon for seven or eight years at different distances,” she said.

She trains for two to three hours a day, five or six days a week.

Lately she’s jumped her efforts to compete in half Ironman events, including one last weekend in Calgary.

For that event, she cycled four to five hours a day leading up to the race.

Cunnington swims the backstroke for the swimming and runs in a racing chair for running portions of triathlons.

She said she can barely remember her accident.

“I was just six so since I’ve just been living.”

She’ll be accompanied by her husband Martin Piffer, who will also ride a hand-driven cycle.

“He helps me with my training by riding his hand bike along with me,” Cunnington said.

Interested riders can get involved by contacting www.reddeer.cmha.ab.ca or www.cabis.info.

People can also select a 50-km ride.

Entrants will receive a T-shirt, hot breakfast and lunch. There are also prizes. Support vehicles will follow the entrants.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com

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