Lance to help injured cyclists

TERRI SAUNDERS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

A local runner's work on behalf of an auction to help five injured cyclists has struck gold -- and possibly Tour de France yellow.

As a member of Ottawa’s running community, Anne Paliwel was shocked to hear of the July 19 crash in which Robert Wein, Rob Harland, Mark White, Cathy Anderson and Hilary McNamee were seriously injured. The five were biking along March Rd. in the city’s west end when they were struck by a van. An Ottawa man has been charged in relation to the crash.

When the woman known as the “sixth cyclist” posted a message on an Ottawa triathlon website, Paliwel read it. Julie Hakim was asking for any help anyone could give in support of her friends.

“That just really touched me,” said Paliwel. “I realized I had to do something.”

And so she began a telephone and e-mail writing campaign to businesses and people within Ottawa’s sporting community, seeking items for a silent auction fundrasier to be held Monday at the Arrow and Loon Restaurant at Bank St. and Fifth Ave.

“I went to Lance Armstrong’s foundation’s website,” said Paliwel. “There was an e-mail address there so I sent off a note.”

Kind words

Paliwel thanked the seven-time Tour de France winner for his kind words in support of the five cyclists. Not long after the crash, Armstrong posted a video on his website wishing the group well.

“I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I’ll hear back from him,’ ” said Paliwel.

Three days later, she opened her e-mail to discover a reply from Armstrong’s manager.

“I nearly fell off my chair,” said Paliwel. “I started screaming at my husband, ‘You won’t believe this!’ ”

Paliwel said the e-mail indicated Armstrong would “love” to donate something to the auction and was sending along a little package to help. Paliwel won’t say exactly what the item is because she wants it to be a surprise, but she did say it has something to do with the Tour de France.

“I guess I just want to keep the excitement going,” said Paliwel.

The five cyclists continue to recover and the hope is they will be well enough to attend the Army Half Marathon in Ottawa Sept. 20.

“I just hope I get to meet them,” said Paliwel. “They are five very courageous people.”


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