Dreams of hopping on a tricycle and riding across the country were dashed for most people sometime over the course of play school.
Thirty-something Tana Silverland, however, is steadfast in her belief that there’s no better way to travel the roads and highways of Canada than seated in her recumbent trike—although she’s got a heavy dose of altruism fanning her passion for pedalling.
“It gives me a good excuse to eat more chocolate,” she joked, before she started to explain she was in the ninth month of a journey for SOS Children’s Villages that’s taken her from Whitehorse to the Okanagan Valley and, in a year or so, back east.
“And part of it is that the tricycle attracts so much attention, that people will just walk up and strike a conversation and we can talk about the work SOS Villages do.”
Silverland, a Briton aiming to make Canada her permanent home after the journey is done, learned about the organization when she was working in Cambridge and started volunteering.
In time, she became more committed to the cause.
“It makes a huge difference in the lives of orphans,” she said, pointing out there are 18,000 children living in 130 countries who have benefited from contact with the organization.
“One of the main things they do is make sure that every orphan gets a new mum—not a staff member to watch them, or a social worker, they get a mum. They get the same kind of good foundation that I had.”
Silverland explained the organization works quite simply in that there are several houses, situated together, and foster parents and children live together as a community.
B.C. has one of the villages in Surrey. Silverland explained it was beautiful to see in operation, so to help it and others like it flourish, she got on her bike to both educate and raise funds for the organizations.
In each city where she can find a Rotary Club or other organization willing to sponsor her, she stops and speaks about her travels and the organization for which she bikes.
And, for those who hear about her one woman crusade across the country, there’s a secondary lesson about perseverance that can be gleaned.
It wasn’t that long ago that Silverland could barely walk, let along contemplate a lengthy bike ride.
“I’ve gone from crawling to the bathroom on my hands and knees, to crawling up the Coquihalla on my bicycle,” she said. “It’s quite a difference.”
The condition that sapped away her muscle strength took hold of Silverland during university and continued on, undiagnosed, for a decade.
“There was an insidious onset, and an insidious offset,” she explained, adding that the trike has been a tough slog because of her condition. “By no means am I a speedily cyclist—I’m definitely the tortoise with this one.”
Silverland’s next stop is in Peachland on Saturday, then she’ll be stopping in various areas in the South Okanagan, as she winds up this portion of her journey. For more information go to tanasilverland.wordpress.com where links to SOS Children’s Villages are available.