Montrealer to cycle across Canada to raise funds for ALS research

Hugo Lambert, a 24-year-old student from Montreal, will cycle across Canada to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) starting Tuesday.

Having lost his own mother to the disease two years ago, Lambert is determined to cycle the 4,500-plus kilometres from Vancouver to Montreal in hopes of collecting up to $50,000 for ALS research.

Lambert's mother passed away at the age of 48, resisting the disease until the very last day "without ever losing hope," Lambert wrote on his fundraising page. He describes his mother as a woman who embodied confidence, benevolence, and generosity, as well as a message: "Follow the path by listening to your heart."

With this message in mind, Lambert was ready to step outside his comfort zone.

"I wanted to do something big, and my heart wanted to do it. So let's go," he told CTV News. "There is fear, but my instinct and my heart [are] bigger than my fear."

Lambert, who studies criminology at the University of Montreal, is part of the university's cycling team and has been training for three years. Although the cross-Canada journey will be a first for the cyclist, he is ready to challenge himself for the sake of ALS research and awareness.

"[ALS] is a degenerative disease, and when you know you've got this disease, the doctors say that the end is death," he explained.

Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disease that destroys one's nerve cells controlling voluntary muscle movement. People with ALS eventually lose their ability to walk, speak, eat, and even breathe.

There is currently no cure for ALS. Those diagnosed with the disease typically have a life expectancy of two to five years, though a small percentage of people live for more than 10 years, according to the ALS Society of Quebec.

"I'm searching to find a solution to support people with ALS disease, and to support caregivers," said Lambert. This includes providing financial support to family members and purchasing equipment such as wheelchairs to those who can no longer walk due to the disease.

"When you get ALS, you're stuck in your bed and you need a lot of assistance," he said.

So far, the cyclist has raised $8,000 for research in Canada, in partnership with Quebec's ALS Society, as well as €8,000 for France's ALS Research Association (ARSLA).

With Quebec facing multiple heat warnings, Lambert says he is prepared for any weather conditions, including heat waves that he may encounter on his way.

Lambert will depart from Vancouver's Stanley Park on July 19, aiming to complete his journey to Montreal in 50 days.

Anyone interested in Lambert’s fundraising journey can track the cyclist's live location and see the latest updates on Lambert's Instagram page @u_go_travel.

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"I invite them to welcome me and do the last pedal stroke with me," he said.

If all goes well, the cyclist suggested he may extend his trip all the way to Halifax.

"I'm sure that my mom is going to help me from the sky, that she will give me the strength to do it."

With files from The Canadian Press