By Duck Paterson
Phileas Fogg, imaginary traveller in Jules Vernes novel Around The World In 80 Days was just that … imaginary, but Mitchell ‘Mitch’ Buxton is far from imaginary.
Buxton, a 25-year-old lifelong resident of Ladysmith has his own travel goal, and his goal is intended to benefit hundreds of people with mental health issues and is sanctioned by the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“After watching a man named Alex bike across Canada,” Buxton said, “I decided I could do similar and do it for the benefit of others. That’s when I decided I would cycle from Vancouver to Toronto in 30 days.”
Vancouver to Toronto is a trip of 4,607 kilometres and being accomplished in 30 days would require a cyclist to pedal 153.5 kilometres per day. Buxton is hoping that he can accomplish this but said “pedalling the Rockies I think it will be around 100 kilometres a day, so when we reach the prairies I’ll have to pump it up to make up the difference.”
Buxton who did all his schooling in Ladysmith and graduated from Ladysmith Secondary found has ambition after trying a few occupations. His first was an electrical apprenticeship where he spent five months working on the north end of Baffin Island in Nunavut.
“That was an experience,” he said. “Especially the different animals birds and even the weather. Lots of Arctic foxes, caribou, and even a polar bear, but it was damn cold.”
Electricity turned out not to be his thing. After a couple of different occupations, Mitch found health care and it stuck. He got his nursing diploma in two years and after that graduation realized that the mental health side of health care was where he fit.
“When we finished nursing school we had various aspects of health care we could move into and nobody in my class picked mental health, I figured I’d give it a shot. It was in the midst of the pandemic and I witnessed the mental strain it cause for not only my clients and colleagues, but to society as a whole. After losing a family member to suicide, I felt helpless and wanted to make a difference.”
Buxton is now teaching at Vancouver Island University, working with nursing and other health care students. On weekends Buxton works at the mental health unit at Cowichan Lodge in Duncan.
Working seven days a week hasn’t allowed him much time to train for his trek but he said “living in Ladysmith has given me a good start as I have been running and criss-crossing the hills in town every opportunity I can get.”
His plan is to start using the Malahat as the next level of training, as it could be like the Rockies. The bicycle that Buxton will be using is a TREK road bike that he paid $1,200 for.
“It’s not the real bike that the pros use, but it’s what I could afford and hopefully it will carry me through,” he said.
One of the other hurdles, according to Buxton is expenses.
“My friend Ken Thomson will be the only other person accompanying me on the journey,” he said. “He will be driving the VW escort vehicle which will also carry all our camping gear, clothing, and food. The gas and other costs are my responsibilities.”
The personal expenses are one of the reasons for putting a 30-day time frame on the trip, plus Buxton has only so many days off and being realistic he feels that the physical as well as mental challenges will be enough and he’s also going back to school in September.
The goal of $10,000 is a reach, says Buxton says but by mid-April he was making pretty good headway on the fundraising. “I’ve managed to raise almost $7,000 so far,” he said. “I think I can make it, I’d actually like to go over, but I’m going to get to the goal first. I’m getting donations from different people and the Kinsmen donated $2,000, which was an amazing boost.”
All funds donated through the ‘Mindful Miles’ fundraiser are designated to go through the Canadian Mental Health Association, with the stipulation they remain in B.C. for causes where the chapter feels it would be best used.
The CMHA will issue receipts for all donations more than $20. People wishing to donate can also go online to Canadahelps.org, find a fundraiser ‘Mindful Miles’. Buxton can also be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 250-713-0206.