By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager
When Chef Ned Bell first shared his idea to ride his bike across Canada in support of healthy lakes, rivers and oceans, I knew immediately that this would be one of the loftiest projects that we would likely ever work together on. Biking 8000km from coast to coast is daunting in itself. But a tour of this size also requires careful planning, a team of dedicated support, fundraising efforts, not to mention a whole lot of heart.
To be honest, I initially had my moments of doubt. I organized another cross Canada tour, and witnessing first hand what it takes to make this sort of endeavor a success made me wonder if we could pull it off. So when Ned first came to me earlier this year to discuss making his dream a reality, I was hesitant to initially commit. I actually didn’t think he was crazy enough to go for it either! We had little time to organize the tour and only a small team in place to support the next steps, but there definitely was a lot of heart.
After a few years of working with Ned, I knew that he was determined enough to make Chefs for Oceans a reality. I also am slightly addicted to monster projects that have the ability to create change. And so when Ned secured a van for the tour, his dream was becoming a reality with the incredible support of his lovely wife Kate, his entire family, the Four Seasons and both of the teams at Ocean Wise and SeaChoice.
But beyond the fierce Chefs for Oceans planning team, what really has warmed my heart is all of the support from coast to coast. Donations have ranged from a tour van and road bikes to air travel points and promotional materials, making the basic logistics of this tour possible. And our co-hosts have not only opened their restaurants, aquariums and business space to welcome locals to twenty events along the tour, but many have also generously offered their staff, catering and support in promoting the tour.
Canadian fishers, aquaculturists and seafood suppliers have also helped us tremendously by donating sustainable seafood product for our events across the country. Some businesses like Organic Ocean have even gone above and beyond by helping us to fundraise with 1% of all seafood sales being donated to Chefs for Oceans during the tour. Albion has also generously donated sustainable canned Albacore tuna to support Ned with his fundraising efforts. Not to mention the many donations from craft breweries, sporting gear, local food artisans, etc. And along the way, many Canadians have already stepped up to offer Ned everything from free hotel rooms and meals to cash donations and even opening their own homes.
But we are only a few weeks in and there are still many kilometers to go so if you are able to support fuel Chefs for Oceans in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Sometimes it is the smallest things that have a major impact; especially when you build a community such as Ned has. And to everyone that has helped to support Ned’s journey so far, we sincerely thank you for your generous support.