Arts & Culture News

Double dare

Imagine, you’re getting ready to bike 160 km on a cold, dark and icy November morning. For part the ride, you’re hugging the shoulder of highway 103. Trucks and cars are thundering by–and there you are on your little bike. Feeling vulnerable yet? Michael Wilson sure did. But he was up for the challenge.
“There’s a very fine line between pushing yourself and being foolish,” Wilson laughs. “That was one of those moments.” Wilson challenged himself to bike 160 km towards St. Margaret’s Bay and back to Halifax as part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Dare Campaign. Last year, Wilson dared himself to run 60 km towards Peggy’s Cove, and to raise at least $2000 for the campaign. The funds went directly towards supporting community-based organizations, working to turn the tide of AIDS in Africa. This year he ‘double dared’ himself to raise $4000. Wilson first heard about the campaign through his International Development Studies class. “I thought it was a really unique opportunity to get actively involved in the community and do something larger than myself,” he says. Wilson’s interest in the Stephen Lewis foundation was another reason he got involved. “For the Dare campaign, you’re really given a lot of freedom and the opportunity to do something creative, which is very inspiring for yourself and also for the people around you,” Wilson said. The bike ride took eight hours, and Wilson was on his own. “To tell you the truth, I was really relaxed on the way out there. I had breakfast at a café, and I just thought I was making better time than I was,” he says.
But he faced some setbacks along the way. “I made a bit of an error reading my odometer. It had included 20 km from my previous training ride, meaning that I had a ton of time to make up and a bit of distance,” he says. Even after mistaking the distance and going off his original route, there was no turning back for Wilson. “You have to have strong internal motivation because things aren’t always going to be going well. Just keep a positive mindset.”
So what kept Wilson motivated? “The kindness of everyone who helped me along the way and who’d been so supportive… and the fact that I’m not alone in doing something like this,” he says. For Wilson, being part of the Dare Campaign has been an empowering experience. “You can easily get overwhelmed with everything that’s going on the world. Just to know that there is a huge movement for change, and to be able to be part of that in some small way is very rewarding,” he says. After the physical grind of biking all day in cold, windy weather, Wilson was excited to be back in Halifax “I saw the sign for it and I think I probably pumped my fists in the air and cheered a little bit,” he says, laughing. So far he has raised over $3300, and donations are still welcomed.
Wilson encourages anyone interested in taking on a dare to go for it. “Just go into it with an open mind and come up with a dare that you’re passionate about and that you’ll have fun doing,” he says. Wilson says that the challenge allowed him to have a greater trust in himself and his ability to accomplish his goals. “Just work through the lows keep that confidence, and know that you’ll get through it in the end. I think it’s a good metaphor for life –what you put into something, you’ll get out of it.”
Wilson’s blog can be found here.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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