82-year-old Calgary man cycles 100,000 km to support sports academy
An 82-year-old Calgary man is defying father time and raising money for a southern Alberta sports academy at the same time.
On his 82nd birthday on Friday, Yukio Kitagawa biked from Lethbridge to Vauxhall, finishing a 100,000-kilometre journey to support the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball.
It’s an organization he decided to help after reading about them in a newspaper.
“The Calgary Herald had an article about the falling enrolment at their school in Vauxhall,” Kitagawa said. “And we (my wife and I) thought jeepers, that doesn’t sound good.”
Kitagawa approached the community’s mayor to see if he could help raise funds for the academy.
“Yukio had no affiliation to Vauxhall originally, so that’s what is truly remarkable, it really is,” Vauxhall Academy of Baseball coach Les McTavish said. “It’s a story that he wanted to give back and he wanted to give back to youth.”
Biking close to 80 kilometres a day, Yukio completed his goal. With sponsors and personal donations, the Kitagawas estimate they have raised around $250,000 for the academy.
In Yukio’s typical routine he gets up at three in the morning and is on the road at 5 a.m. to tackle his five- to six-hour ride.
“You start riding four, five, six hours a day, 350 days a year, it’s crazy,” McTavish said. “We give out close to $20,000 a year just to players who have earned it through community service, through academic performance, through athletic performance and those fingerprints on this go back to the Kitagawa family.”
Yukio’s wife Barbara has played a huge part in Yukio’s journey to 100,000 kilometres. She joins him for rides on days when the weather is nice and helped as support team for his ride on Friday.
No one knows Yukio better than Barbara, who met him when she was just 10 years old. She believes Yukio’s latest biking journey is nowhere near his last.
“At 82 he’s not going to get in the rocking chair anytime soon,” Barbara said. “He’s probably going to come up with another goal.”
“I have other ideas,” Yukio said. “120,225 (kilometres), which is three laps around the Earth. So that’s the next goal.”
All future riding donations are again going to the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball, and at this point could anything stop him?
“There’s no end in sight for me,” Yukio said with a laugh.
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