The 24-year-old McMaster University graduate from Ancaster is heading up the Biking for Boobies campaign, raising money for breast cancer research. On Friday, his chase car was broken into while at a stop in Montreal. He lost $700 of donated cash, 2 laptops, a camera and footage from cycling through the East Coast.
“[The money] is supposed to go to people who are trying to make positive change,” he said. “But people have come through with so much support since.”
Chevalier, and his friend Tessa who is driving his chase car, embarked on a four-month, cross-Canada bike ride with a goal of raising $75,000 total. He's already at $10,000.
On May 18, through sleet and snow, he started his ride as far east as you can go and still be in Canada, Cape Spear in St. John's, Newfoundland.
“I had to change clothes constantly,” he said. “One guy driving a snowplow looked down at me and must have been thinking, 'This guy is crazy.'”
Since his time biking through the Newfoundland spring, Chevalier made his way through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and is now in Orleans, Ont.
It was a close family friend, someone Chevalier said he grew up with, who inspired him to ride. JoAnne Barresi, the mother of Chevalier's good friend, was 49-years-old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.
“I ran the Toronto Marathon a week before I was diagnosed,” she said. “It was a shock.”
Barresi describes Chevalier as a “fitness freak.” They used to run up the Chedoke stairs together to train. She said it's the selflessness of Chevalier's ride that she's most impressed with.
“He's a 24-year-old kid, just graduated from university,” she said. “He could be looking for a job... it's incredible that he's doing this.”
Cancer stories from the road
Chevalier said taking on this ride for breast cancer survivors like Barresi felt natural for him.
“I saw the way it affects them and it made me want to do something more,” he said. “She used positivity to focus on healing... That's something I admire.”
Chevalier has seen more first-hand accounts of how breast cancer affects families along his ride. At the Montreal auto shop where he got his window repaired, Chevalier met an employee named John, a widow who lost his wife to breast cancer in 2009. His wife's name, Nancy, is tattooed on his arm inside a pink ribbon. Chevalier snapped a photo for his blog.
That social media presence — using the blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — has helped him immensely.
Since the $700 in cash donations was lost on Friday, he's already gained $500 of it back through online donations.
“When bad stuff happens, there are still people who care,” he said. “It keeps me strong... and shows it's not going to break you.”
Along his ride, Chevalier is also making sure he sees where his donations are going. He's stopping at Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation chapters in cities he rides through.
Chevalier also plans to stop in Kenora, Ont. at Lake of Woods Hospital where they are wrapping up a funding campaign to pay for a new mammogram machine. Biking for Boobies plans to donate the last bit of cash the hospital needs, he said.
The ride wraps up Aug. 26 in Victoria, B.C.