Ted Forrest

Nothing is more calming for the soul than the feeling of the sun on your face and the sights, sounds and smells of a trip along a trail.

November 17, 2014 | | Local Heroes

Ted Forrest: One of our 2014 Local Heroes

Bike Buddy

Nothing is more calming for the soul than the feeling of the sun on your face and the sights, sounds and smells of a trip along a trail. Ted Forrest, the inspiration behind Erin’s wheelchair bike program, makes this experience a reality for those who might not otherwise get the chance.

Retired from a career in the printing industry, Ted was an avid recreational cyclist. Six years ago he discovered that Wellington Terrace, a long-term care facility in Fergus, has wheelchair bikes that enable residents to tour the nearby trail system with volunteer riders.

Ted signed up as a rider and has been volunteering there ever since, picking up and delivering some residents right to their rooms. “I like to joke that it’s the first time I’ve been allowed to ride my bike in the house,” he says.

After a while, Ted says, “The penny dropped,” and he thought of introducing the concept to participants in ARC Industries East, which provides work and support for adults with intellectual disabilities.

ARC, which had recently opened a new facility close to the Elora Cataract Trailway in Erin, welcomed the idea. Ted then partnered with Erin PhysioFitness and set about raising the $7,500 needed to pay for a bicycle, helmets and shipping, as well as to set up a small reserve for maintenance.

At the time, the Erin Rotary, Optimist and Lions clubs were looking for a project they could carry out together. “None could do $7,500 on their own, but they could all do $2,500,” says Ted. “I was invited to make a presentation to all the groups and walked out of each with a cheque. Then we ran a general campaign to raise funds for the second bike.”

The general campaign was supported by the Erin Legion and local residents, and the bikes were delivered in 2013.

The program operates two mornings a week and has proven highly successful, with what Ted calls a “good core” of six volunteers and three ARC staff, who all took training. The training was mostly common sense and “revolves around compassion,” Ted says.

Then there is the full slate of happy passengers. “The passenger is king,” Ted adds. “If they decide it’s too cold, or too windy, or they don’t want to go any farther, we immediately turn back.” Volunteer riders also carry a two-way radio so they can reach the ARC office if necessary.

Though the normal route is along the rail trail, the bikes also made an appearance last year in the Erin Santa Claus parade.

Ted’s sights are now set on expanding the program to include seniors and other wheelchair users. The goal is to “see the bikes get used for more hours,” he says. As things unfold, he would also like to establish a process that allows potential passengers’ family members and friends to take them out for rides.

Not content just to oversee the program, Ted is also one of the riders and has clearly made a host of friends in the ARC community. “It’s very rewarding,” he says. “I’ve taken non-communicative people out, and along the way they’ll start singing. Eventually it became my fix just as much as theirs.”

Ted Forrest from Mick Partlett on Vimeo.

Ted Forrest: One of our 2014 Local Heroes. Video by Mick Partlett.

About the Author More by Jeff Rollings

Jeff Rollings is a freelance writer living in Caledon.

Comments

10 Comments

  1. What an amazing article and video!
    We are so proud of everything Ted has done for us here at Wellington Terrace over the past 6 years.
    He is most definitely a hero in our eyes as well!
    Way to go Ted!

    Mary Black,
    Coordinator of Volunteers,
    Wellington Terrace

    Mary Black from Wellington Terrace Long Term Care Home on Nov 19, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Reply

  2. Wonderful story about a wonderful program initiated by my wonderful dad!

    Holly Kosten on Nov 19, 2014 at 9:56 pm | Reply

  3. Way to go, Ted. Glad to hear that my big bro is still making a difference!! Your involvement in your community is inspirational!!

    Ellen B. Gelinas from Montreal, QC on Nov 20, 2014 at 10:10 pm | Reply

  4. Ted you are such an inspiration! Thank you for all your efforts. You have made such a wonderful difference individuals life’s. Keep up the good work.

    Maja Amichand from Wellington Terrace on Nov 24, 2014 at 8:23 am | Reply

  5. On behalf of Community Living Guelph Wellington(CLGW) I would like to say how thankful we are for Ted and all the work he has done to raise money to purchase bikes and to recruit volunteers to ride them. The people supported by CLGW thoroughly enjoy the opportunities provided through the bike program. we would also like to thank those from the community who have donated money and/or time to carry out this initiative.

    Bob Butella from Wellington County on Nov 25, 2014 at 11:03 am | Reply

  6. Ted this story and video highlights once again your outstanding charity, dedication and support for others and for your community. Heroes are folks who do things for others, that make a difference. You have made such a difference for the residents at Wellington Terrace through our Biking Buddy volunteer program and now for individuals at ARC Industries Erin. You are truly a hero in both of these communities. Thank you for all you do.

    Colleen Cudney, Life Enrichment Manager from Wellington Terrace, Fergus on Nov 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Reply

  7. Oh Ted you have made me cry in sheer happiness watching the story!! You are an absolute gem and it was brilliant hearing your voice and seeing your smile. What a beautiful and wonderful experience to be able to give those young and unable to ride themselves. High fives!!! Love your Aussie fans. x

    nina from Sydney, Australia on Dec 11, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Reply

  8. Ted…
    Awesome, just 110% awesome! If I was back in Canada, I would be a volunteer biker, for sure!

    Mike Ferno from Sweden on Feb 16, 2015 at 4:02 am | Reply

  9. Ted,

    What an impressive initiative and contribution which offers so much to both the residents and those that are willing to pedal these folks in the outdoors where they can re-visit the world of motion and diversity in being with nature and breathing fresh air. Kudos to you Ted and to all those other volunteers and investors who make this happen.

    I am much aware of the sadness and isolation surrounding these non-communicative souls. The Bike program surely is a welcome and therapeutic diversion to all, including the volunteers of which I would like to participate and how to become involved

    John Sioui from Ottawa, ON on Nov 14, 2016 at 7:58 pm | Reply

  10. Ted:

    You and I go back to a point that is rather unique. We were born at the same time in the same hospital to mothers who were best friends throughout their lives. You and I have had wonderful, loving families fulfilling careers and have enjoyed 75 years of friendship. All of that positive energy is reflected in this absolutely remarkable bike program. Congratulations on an a job well done and for making a difference for people who have been dealt a difficult hand in life.

    Your oldest friend
    Bill Haugland

    William Russell Haugland from Alexandria, Ontario on Apr 3, 2017 at 5:34 pm | Reply

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