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A life cycler

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Fort Smith (Aug 12/02) - A Fort Smith man is bicycling to Winnipeg to raise funds and awareness.

Rob Genaille is president of the newly-formed Northern Families Healthy Lifestyles group in Fort Smith.

NNSL photo

Rob Genaille is bicycling from Fort Smith to Winnipeg as part of a fundraising and awareness campaign. On the section to Hay River, he will be accompanied by his son Tyler. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

His long-distance ride --which goes by the name "Life Cycle" -- is to help promote the organization and its main goal of a family resource centre for the community.

The centre would serve people returning from treatment or correctional facilities, help high-risk families, and offer other programs and services.

Basically, it will help fill the gaps in the social services system, particularly for young people, Genaille says. "It's a concern to me that youth have such limited choices."

Genaille says he has no target for how much he would like to raise on his marathon ride.

If everything went as planned, he left Fort Smith Saturday morning and would be in Hay River today.

On Tuesday, he will be back on the highway.

On the Fort Smith-Hay River leg of the journey, he was to be accompanied by his son Tyler.

The whole ride from Fort Smith to Winnipeg will total about 3,000 kilometres and will take about 20 days.

Genaille will be stopping at friendship centres, native reserves and Metis settlements along the way to seek support.

It would not be the first time Genaille will have cycled across the prairies. In 1998, he rode from Edmonton to Winnipeg to promote awareness of type 2 diabetes.

"As far as I know, I'm the only native guy to have done that," he says of his cross-prairie ride.

And the 47-year-old will also be including diabetes awareness on this bike ride, noting he is in the high-risk age group for the disease.

Genaille is originally from Dauphin, Man., and, over the past 20 years, has been at various times a corrections and parole officer, counsellor and youth worker.

Along with leading the Northern Families Healthy Lifestyles, he is also president of Community Solutions, a group formed earlier this year in Fort Smith to combat bullying and help high-risk children.