Horseback riding across the globe one kilometer at a time

Horseback riding across the globe, one kilometer at a time from Annie Claire Bergeron-Oliver on Vimeo.

For more than seven years, 66-year-old Megan Lewis has been travelling the globe by horse power.

Her epic world journey began in 2008 following the Beijing Olympics, ending four years later on the Irish coast.

Now, she’s riding across North America with her sidekick, Lady.

“Ever since I was a young teenager, I’ve known that I was going to do a long ride. It’s just something that has always been a dream for me,” Lewis said.

Lady and Lewis began their trip last year in Newfoundland, with plans to end up on the U.S. west coast sometime next year. Lewis said she wants to dismount in either California or Oregon.

“My children think I’m mad, but they are not surprised,” Lewis said.

The duo travel up to 40 kilometers per day on highways, major roads, and most recently on the Trans Canada train. To make it easier on the horses, and on herself, Lewis rides into chunks. Every three months, Lewis returns to Wales to visit her family.

“I need that time to catch up on stuff at home and to plan. It’s quite a huge venture in the sense that it needs a tremendous amount of planning,” she said.

“It’s not like the old days where you could get on your horse and ride.”

The ride has taken her through more than 10 countries, with memories created in each one.

“When we were riding across China people kept asking us if we were the circus, which I thought was quite funny.”

When asked to pick a favourite country, Lewis couldn’t.

“It’s sort of like saying who is your favourite child. They are all different and I’ve just loved everywhere.”

Out of everywhere she’s been, Lewis said Canada has been the nicest. She said she loves the countryside, the lakes, and most of all, the “nice people.”

“In Canada, everyone has been so friendly. I think it’s the nicest country I’ve been to so far.”

This adventure of a lifetime is expensive. Although Lewis has had some sponsors along the way, she said it’s journey she felt she had to do.

“I think I saw far more of countries than a lot of other people because say, in China, I got to stay in a little farm houses and those sorts of places that people don’t often see.”

Although she has mapped out places to stay, Lewis said she often sleeps in a tent on the road, or in people’s homes.

“I find people are always interested in horses, so they come and talk to me. If they don’t like horses, they are interested to hear why I’m on a horse in the countryside.”

In addition to creating lasting memories, Lewis is raising money for her husband’s charity, Challenge Aid. The charity helps educate disadvantaged children in the developing world.

(Originally aired on CTV Ottawa. All rights reserved. Original video and post can be viewed here: http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/riding-across-the-globe-one-kilometer-at-a-time-1.2366809) 

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Pre-teen runs 134km for kids of Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Boy walks more than 100 kilometers for the kids of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women. from Annie Claire Bergeron-Oliver on Vimeo.

12-year-old Theland Kicknosway, of Walpole Island First Nation, completed a 134 kilometer run Saturday to raise funds for the families of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women.

Theland started his ambitious journey at the Kitigan Zibi Alongquin Community near Maniwaki, QC on Wednesday and finished four days later at the spot in Gatineau Park where a pregnant 27-year-old Kelly Morrisseau was found clinging to life in 2006. Morrisseau died hours later at the hospital leaving behind three children.

“Having to be here and showing our support for women like Kelli is something that will be with me for this entire journey,” said Kicknosway after a prayer for Kelly and the other murdered women.

Kicknosway first floated the idea of a run when he was just nine year’s old. He said he wanted to help the children of Canada’s roughly 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women. In two years Kicknosway has raised about $4,000 for Sisters in Spirit.

‘I asked my mom where the children go of the missing and murdered indigenous women and she said ‘I don’t know’,” he said.

“Running for them is something that has really helped me grow up and grow into the man, that, from what I used to be.”

Kicknosway has planned for each of the next two years and by then he hopes the newly launched inquiry will be complete. He said he hopes his runs will raise awareness and ultimately help bring an end to the violence once and for all.

“Every year and every day and every minute, thinking of them is something that will be with me for the rest of my life,” he said.

The above article and video appeared on CTV Ottawa’s website as well as CTV National News with Sandie Rinaldo. All rights reserved. 

CTV Ottawa

Since July 2014 I’ve been working as an on-air reporter for CTV Ottawa. It’s been a whirlwind, but an overall amazing experience. Every day I meet new people who are kind, generous and willing to share their personal stories with me and the larger community. I just hope I do them justice. Here are a few stories I’m proud of:

CTV Ottawa: Annie’s Disney dream

CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver with a once in a lifetime experience to take to the stage with Disney on Ice. (This was probably THE MOST FUN I’ve ever had on a story.)

CTV Ottawa: The case for a safe injection site

CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver on the rise in deaths from Fentanyl and why advocates say a safe injection site in Ottawa will save lives.

CTV Ottawa: Bruyere in the assisted death debate

CTV’s Annie Bergeron Oliver looks at what the Catholic health care provider is saying.

CTV Ottawa: Five people charged in Najdi homicide

CTV’s Annie Bergeron Oliver reports on five people facing first degree murder charges in Najdi homicide. A sixth person has since been charged in what police believe was a kidnapping gone wrong.

CTV Ottawa: Zika virus’ spread ‘explosive’

CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver on the growing concern over the Zika virus, how travellers, airlines and blood agencies are responding.

CTV Ottawa: Lebreton flats costly soil cleanup

CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver with new details of the cleanup necessary to develop the Lebreton Flats site.

CTV Ottawa: Rocking the Brier

CTV’s Annie Bergeron Oliver wraps up a successful 2016 Tim Hortons Brier in Ottawa. (Aired on CTV Ottawa and CTV National News)

CTV Ottawa: Massive fire in Aylmer

CTV’s Annie Bergeron Oliver reports on a massive fire in Aylmer.

CTV Ottawa: Competitive foosball championships

CTV’s Annie Bergeron Oliver looks at the National Foosball Championships.  (Who knew Canada had a National team?!)

CTV Ottawa: Rugby Retirement for the Books

CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver on the 81-year-old player calling it quits after five decades on the field

CTV Ottawa: Paying tribute

CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver with the nationwide vigils for two Canadian heroes.

Live rants 

CTV Ottawa: Hundreds of buses descend

CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver is on very busy but fluid Scott Street where snow and influx of more buses did not cause too much delay.

CTV Ottawa: Winter makes a comeback

CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver on the City preparing its response to another storm.

CTV Ottawa: Man injured in overnight shooting

CTV’s Annie Bergeron-Oliver reports from Innes Road where Police say a man was shot in the leg while sleeping in his home.=

CTV News Channel hits

For the last few months I’ve been a somewhat regular political commentator for CTV News Channel. It’s been a great opportunity to jump back into the television world, and to share my love and knowledge of Canadian politics.

Here are a few of my hits:

CTV News Straight Talk panel – May 12, 2014.

Annie on CTV News Channel

Click here to see more 

CTV News Straight Talk panel – November 20th, 2013.

Panelist
Panelist

Final hours of the Quebec provincial Election – April 6th, 2014.

Annie on CTV News Channel

Senate scandal is far from over  – November 9th, 2013.

Senate will vote to suspend members on all or none principle – November 6th, 2013.

 

Political wrap-up with Scott Laurie

Click here for other videos, courtesy of TheLoop.ca

CTV News Channel: Straight Talk Panel

Here’s a link to my most recent hit on CTV News Channel’s Straight Talk panel:

Annie on CTV

And another in which I talk about what’s going on in federal politics.

 

Annie on CTV News Channel

 

My first ever LIVE on air experience was a bit nerve-wrecking, but a lot of fun.

Here‘s a link to the first of many CTV News Channel’s Straight Talk panel: http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=912183

LIVE politics hit on CTV News Channel's Straight Talk Panel
LIVE politics hit on CTV News Channel’s Straight Talk Panel

CTV News Channel: Toronto Center byelections

Appearance on CTV News Channel talking about the Toronto Center byelections, and the federal government’s response to the PQ’s proposed ‘charter of values’.

Here’s a link to the full video: http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1004024

Consumer Watch: Are Vibram Running Shoes Good for Your Health?

Imagine a glove for your toes. That’s what Vibram FiveFingers is all about. They’re made to mimic the barefoot running that Kenyans and other cultures have been doing for centuries. But, are they good for your health?

By: Annie Claire Bergeron-Oliver and Leisha Majitan

Jumping to new heights

photo credit: Maiji Tammi

Basketball is often considered as a sport for tall people. But two brothers living in the Douglass Houses in Manhattan Valley are trying to change that notion. They are less than four feet tall and can outplay the average basketball star.

Jahmani Swanson, 26, moved to the Douglass Houses when he was five years old. He’s been playing basketball ever since. The Douglass community, he said, has strong ties to the game. There are five courts on the premises, a children’s league at the Children’s Aid Community Center, and even a resident who’s a former NBA player. Swanson fell in love with the game after watching Michael Jordan play. He said he even slept with a basketball when he was young.

Jahmani Swanson and his brother Justin Tompkins takes a break after a practice session.

Today, Swanson calls basketball his “girlfriend.” He’s the center of the offensive line for the New York Towers, a team composed entirely of little people. The players practice every winter and spring with the goal of winning the annual Dwarf Athletic Association of America basketball tournament. They have won this tournament for the past two years.

Through basketball, Swanson hopes that people will stop judging others based on their appearance. His message is simple – “Do not judge someone whether they are big, small, skinny or fat, it’s the fun. It’s the teamwork. It’s having an eye for basketball.”

Justin Tompkins, 18, is a point guard for the NY Towers. He’s also Swanson’s younger brother. Tompkins said being on the same team as his brother is a gift and it makes the team better. They know each other’s favorite moves and playing style. “My brother will pass the ball to me for an easy lay up and the other defenders don’t know because we are brothers.”

There can be some challenges though, according to Tompkins. “Shooting over them. trying to keep up with them or block their shot. the easiest thing is stealing the ball from them because they dribble so low.” That’s when having good skills and natural talent are important, he said.  “Other teams don’t know how to play very well. they aren’t smart with the basketball.”

Students aiming high with rugby

More than two dozens students sat on the AstroTurf field at Randall’s Island in the East River awaiting the start of their rugby game. The navy blue and white uniforms were stained with dirt and grass from the previous games.  It’s the biggest North American rugby tournament featuring over 80 teams in multiple age categories. The referee blew the whistle, and the game began. The students were on a roll. They had won their last game by 21 to 19. Now in the final game, the last game of the season, it alone would determine the championship. But regardless of the outcome of the game, in the eyes of their coach, the West Side Sports Leadership Academyrugby team might have won already.

“It gives them motivation to do well,” said Coach Kevin Penn. “For one thing, just the reason to be at school for any given day.” It also keeps them physically active and provides a level of discipline and structure that helps the players academically, he said.

Randolph Porter, 20, is a prime example. He graduated last year from West Side High School, an alternative school located within the Douglass Houses on 103rd St. and Amsterdam Ave. in Manhattan Valley. He is currently studying special education at Clinton Community College in upstate New York. Before joining the rugby team, Porter was apathetic towards school. He thought of going to a four year university, but he did not have the grades. His attitude changed after he joined the rugby team. “At first I was like ya, maybe I’ll go to college. I’ll party hard and go for girls.” And his teachers noticed an improvement too. He was coming to class with a pen and notebook. “Randy coming to class early? Coming to class and taking notes?”

The rugby program stands out in the Manhattan Valley neighborhood that is often associated with crime and mayhem. It aims to develop character, healthy behaviors, respect and improve high school and college graduation rates, according to Mark Griffin, founder of Play Rugby USA, a non-profit organization that runs the rugby team. “Rugby develops vitality, respect, teamwork, and leadership,” he said.

Marcus Gantt is new to the team. His father, Marc Gantt has seen improvements in Marcus’s academic achievement ever since his son joined the team. Marcus will take the SAT exam later this year. He hopes to get into a four year college and make it to the college rugby team. He has not decided his major yet.

But for most students at West Side High, college, let alone high school, isn’t a priority. Last year, the school had a 23% graduation rate and less than 30% college enrollment rate, according to the New York State Department of Education. Griffin said Play Rugby USA is important because the school desperately needs help. “The school had students who have already dropped out of the system a number of times.”

The students at West Side High get a chance to visit local colleges. After every rugby game, the players learn about college experiences over dinner. “Students see part of the college life and that’s a motivation,” Penn said. “A lot of them do want to go that route.”

Porter is set to graduate from college in two years. He hopes to improve his grades enough to get into a division two college. He has set bigger goals for himself. “I want to play rugby,” Porter said. “I want to travel and I want to hopefully want to play for the United States one day.”

Play Rugby USA has almost 3,000 students participating in New York City, and a vast majority of its programs operate in low income areas. According to Griffin, being occupied after school can help curb violent behavior and gang involvement among students. The rugby program, he added, helps athletes channel their aggression. “The program is a vehicle to hook them in after school and bring them to the school instead of be on the streets.”

Disabled youth take a go at sled hockey