Thirteen days into his month-long series of triathlons, Nursing professor Abe Oudshoorn hit the wall. “I was cooked. I was toast. I couldn’t make it up the stairs.”
Then he thought of those who met up with him at the pool before dawn every morning to share part of his 30-day mission. And his friends at Atlohsa Family Healing Services, who welcomed him as an ally. And homeless Indigenous people who would ultimately benefit from the fundraiser.
He plowed ahead with the additional help of a massage therapist friend, a fellow athlete.
On Tuesday, shortly before 8 a.m., Oudshoorn finished his 30th consecutive day of completing a sprint triathlon: a 750-metre swim, followed by a 20-kilometre bike ride, followed by a 5-kilometre run.
Most of the journey took place at the downtown London Y – in the pool, on the stationary bike and on the treadmill. On Tuesday, Oudshoorn completed the running portion outside.
Aiming to raise $10,000 for the centre’s ‘resting spaces’ that provide temporary lodging to some of London’s most vulnerable people, Oudshoorn and his friends ultimately generated a $15,541 donation. (The number continues to rise as money keeps rolling in to the event’s GoFundMe page.)
“I couldn’t have done it by myself,” he said Tuesday morning at a celebration breakfast.
Oudshoorn, a nurse and a professor in the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, has long been an advocate for people who are homeless or have insecure housing.
Raymond Deleary, Executive Director of the centre, said Indigenous people make up a disproportionate percentage of London’s homeless population. Agencies such as Atlohsa are all too often on the front lines of filling in the gaps for those who are otherwise ignored or overlooked.
“It’s just magnificent that we have an ally like Abe who has just broken the mould and done something totally selfless,” he said.
Reconciliation, including housing solutions that redress historical and current injustices faced by Indigenous people, is an important foundation of helping solve homelessness, Oudshoorn said. “We know there is a nation-to-nation process we continue to struggle with. But reconciliation is also a deeply personal thing we have to go through as being Canadians on this land.”
Dennis Whiteye, Manager of Community Services at Atlohsa, presented Oudshoorn with a ribbon shirt, an Indigenous shirt worn during special ceremonies and occasions. “When we dress someone, we adopt them into our culture,” Whiteye told Oudshoorn.
The event left several in the room teary-eyed, including Oudshoorn. “To be welcomed into the community like this is amazing.”