When I checked the balance of Reach Out’s bank account last month, I noticed we had received a donation of 104€. A weird figure, since most online donations involve rounded off amounts. The story behind this donation, however, is special enough to share with Reach Out followers…
I came to know Joris De Fraeye last February during a photo presentation about my bicycle ride to the North Cape at the Ehipassiko Buddhist Centre in Antwerp. Joris told me that he had cycled from Antwerp to Santiago de Compostela in 2018 and that he planned a long eastbound trip in 2019. Last summer he did indeed traverse West Germany, cycled across the former Iron Curtain into the Czech Republic and Hungary and back into Austria.
Nothing special for an experienced long-distance cyclist, one would think, were it not for the fact that Joris has an autism spectrum disorder. This was the second year that he jumped into the ‘big unknown’ of a long solo-cycling tour with all the uncertainties that such an endeavour inevitably involves. This is not evident for someone with ASS. While he was on his way, I received a few WhatsApp messages in which he vented sadness, discomfort, anxiety or sometimes outright panic he had experienced in certain unexpected situations. He even changed the trajectory that he had prepared so well at home. This is quite something!
Back to the story behind the donation. On 31 July, while I was still in Scotland, Joris WhatsApped me a spoken selfie film announcing that he would contribute 5 cents to Cipriano’s studies for every kilometre he would cycle. He amassed 2,078 kilometres (and 15,000 altitude metres) in fewer than five weeks, which cost him quite a lot of money, since 104 euros is a major donation! But with this second cycling trip, he pedalled himself much richer in experiences and self-confidence. Chapeau, Joris, and many thanks for your donation, your friendship and solidarity.
Joris thinks he could inspire and encourage other people in his situation. Therefore, he intends to go public with his 5,000 kilometres of solo-cycling in Europe, either online with texts or films, or with a photo presentation, or a combination of both.
Whoever is interested in his story may contact Joris De Fraeye via a personal message.
You may also find Joris on the Facebook page of the Dutch-language ‘De Wereldfietser/Vakantiefietser’ magazine, the FB page to be for all Dutch-speaking cyclists, as a matter of fact.
Thanks on behalf of Cipriano for your donation, Joris, and also for your inspiring example.