PORT HARDY—For most people retirement means relaxation; perhaps puttering in the garden or RVing.
Art Brochu is not most people.
After a lifetime of military service, the 70-year-old could be forgiven for seeking out a retiring retirement. Instead, Brochu has thrown himself wholeheartedly into his new passion — cycling — and found a way to challenge himself while helping others.
Last Thursday Brochu left Port Hardy on the first leg of a fundraising journey that will see him ride across the country to St. John’s, Newfoundland, in support of Children’s Wish Foundation.
The veteran hopes to raise $130,000 along the way to fund a wish in each of the provinces and territories. Brochu has trained with Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Lori-Anne Muenzer for the journey, which he hopes to complete in 14 weeks.
While cycling across Canada may seem like a daunting enough task for anyone, let alone a septuagenarian, Brochu has set another challenge for himself.
Along the way he will be conducting a series of presentations on the topic of health and wellbeing, and he kicked off his speaking tour Wednesday at Port Hardy Secondary School.
Brochu told students that he was troubled throughout his military career by the children he was unable to help. “I saw children suffering; their parents maybe off fighting,” he told students, “but we couldn’t help them. Sometimes it was not our mandate or there were not enough resources to help.
“I’ve always wanted, always felt guilty that I couldn’t do something for the kids.”
So, when he retired, Brochu began work with Children’s Wish. He also began working on his health and found that his new lifestyle helped ease the chronic pain his career had left him with.
Brochu urged the students to take care of themselves now by exercising and eating regular, smaller meals to regulate their metabolisms. He cautioned against fad and ‘yo-yo’ dieting, warning that there were no shortcuts to health.
“Never give up,” he told the crowd. “Be proud of yourself and who you are.”
Brochu later joined well-wishers at a send-off event at the Port Hardy Legion. The next morning, 101 Squadron and Legion members were joined by RCMP officers, Chamber representatives and civic leaders for a send-off breakfast at the Chamber of Commerce, with Brochu thanking everyone for their support before hitting the road with an emergency vehicle escort.
To learn more about Brochu’s journey, or to make a donation visit www.childrenswish.ca/ab/artcyclesforwishes.