Evert Thor is a fixture on the stationary bike at the Parkinson Recreation Centre fitness room.
But while he may be perched on the bike seat in Kelowna, his mind is often somewhere else in the world.
In recent days, that place has been around Singapore.
For Evert, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, riding a stationary bike, recording his kilometres to coincide with a global travel route he has mapped out, has become his exercise passion for more than 12 years.
Pedalling on the bike for two hours three days a week, along with the added mileage accumulated biking from home to Parkinson when the weather permits, has allowed him to circle the globe 2.5 times approaching 100,000 kms in accumulated travel mileage, each time mapping out a different travel route for his cycling adventure.
His passion has enabled the 63-year-old to ward off some of the degenerative symptoms associated with Parkinson’s, and made him a focal point of a small community of people who gather regularly to exercise at the rec centre.
In his customary position on the stationary bike at the entrance to the fitness gym, Evert greets everyone with a fist bump and serves as an inspiration for them, earning the nickname “Thor on the door.”
Evert lives on his own. His is a dad and grand-dad. He is a volunteer at the local badminton club, and a published author who loves to write poetry. And even though Parkinson’s has impacted his ability to speak, his sense of humour shines through to everyone even if his words sometimes fail him.
“We all adore him, ” said Claire Engel, who along with her husband Keith are part of that close-knit Parkinson workout group.
“When Evert is away for some reason, visiting family in Kamloops or going to Vancouver for medical treatment, many people come up to us asking, ‘Where is Evert?,’ concerned that something has happened to him when he is not at his customary place on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday.
“He is such an encouragement to all of us.”
Keith Engel says he first met Evert back in 2006 when he and his wife began a regular exercise routine at Parkinson, and the couple started seven years ago what has become a tradition to host a lunch gathering at the rec centre every year to mark Evert’s birthday attended by more than 30 of his gym friends and Parkinson staff.
“It is amenities like Parkinson Recreation Centre providing the ability to create that sense of community that often gets overlooked. When you build a facility like this and others in the community, a byproduct of that is creating a sense of community,” he said.
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