Travelling the country on horseback started as a dream for two young Ontario sisters, but years later they made it a reality for a touching reason.
“I think I was around nine years old and I wanted to be the first woman to ride my horse across Canada,” Katie Keca said. “And I wanted to do it with my sister. But then growing up, going away to school, I kind of forgot about the dream.”
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Years later Katie and Jewel Keca are riding their horses Ora and Phoenix from coast to coast to help raise money for other four-legged friends, the Lions Foundation of Canada for Dog Guides.
“I started raising my first puppy in 2016 and through the year of having him, I learned a lot about the foundation and what they do and saw a lot of incredible ways these dogs have helped people,” Jewel said.
“I just thought, you know, we are riding across the country — these dogs help people all across Canada and I thought it would be a good way to spread more awareness for them.”
The journey began two years ago when Katie and Jewel left their homes in Ontario for Nova Scotia. The two then travelled to Sault Ste. Marie, but took a year off before hitting the road once again. Now, and come rain or shine, the pair are dedicated to finishing their tour.
“I got shocked by lightening,” Katie laughed. “It was in the ground, it grounded and it shocked me where my knife was so that was kind of scary. We’ve been like 200 meters from lightening, we’ve been in hail like running from tornadoes.”
Along the way the two camp out in their van, resting overnight before hitting the road once again when morning comes around.
“We have traveled 4,000 kilometres so far and I think we will hit around just close to 6,000 when we’re done,” said Katie.
But for the sisters, this journey wouldn’t be complete without meeting people and their companions as they go, seeing first hand the lives they’re trying to change. Bill Brown and his dog Jax are a duo that knows all too well how important the organization is.
“They change your life, they really do,” Brown said. “The freedom they give you to walk, I walk between five kilometres a day.”