Olenka Antymniuk hopes Winnipeggers will saddle-up to help build a better future for a family.
The south St. Vital resident and interior designer is now preparing to compete in Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s 2013 Cycle of Hope.
In what will be its landmark 20th year, a group of cyclists will head from Louisville, Ky., to Winnipeg to raise money to build a home for a family in need in the 1,000 Miles Home Challenge.
The event will take place from June 29 to July 13. Each rider must raise at least $2,500. Each rider must also pay a $475 registration fee to cover the cost of the trip, which means all proceeds raised go to Habitat.
Antymniuk is a key figure in the development of the race. She co-organized the first Cycle of Hope in 1994 with Lorraine Petkau, as well as taking part in it. Next year will be her 13th ride.
Southdale resident and hairstylist Petkau came up with idea of the Cycle of Hope after the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project came to Winnipeg in 1993.
And while next year’s event is more than six months away, Antymniuk said now is the time for potential participants to start planning.
"There is lots of preparation needed. You need to book holidays, you may not have an adequate bike, you may have to get fit," she said.
Participants will take a two-day drive to Louisville before heading back to Winnipeg and finishing the ride at the future build site of the sponsored Habitat home, which has yet to be decided.
Antymniuk said organizers contact communities along the route to help provide things like accommodation for the riders.
"It’s good to stay in places like schools because they have showers and gyms, so we can bring our sleeping gear. It’s like camping indoors," Antymniuk said.
"We also ask churches or community clubs to sponsor an evening meal. Most communities are very aware and supportive."
Depending on the conditions and the terrain, some days on the road can be gruelling, but many participants thrive on the challenge, Antymniuk said.
"We have to deal with headwinds and big hills. Sometimes both at the same time. That’s where the challenge comes into play," she said.
"Most of all, it’s about the fact that the kids will benefit from what we do. If they’re better off, so are we."
"The others thing is I meet people who are really good people, so I get to do what I really love and also get to make the best friends in the world," Antymniuk added.
For more information, or to register, visit www.habitat.mb.ca.