Simple message behind cross-Canada tour: wear a helmet

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Mike Harris, left, and Jeff Abbott are longboarding across Canada this summer to promote helmet use and raise funds for the Canadian Brain Injury Association.

By Joel van der Veen

For their trip across Canada this summer, Jeff Abbott and Mike Harris are sharing a simple message: use your noggin.

The two longboarders are riding from Vancouver to St. John’s to promote helmet use and raise funds for the Brain Injury Association of Canada.

Their trip along the Trans-Canada Highway took them through Saskatchewan and into Moose Jaw, where they planned to stay overnight on Friday.

During a stopover at the city’s tourist centre, Abbott, 24, explained that he and Harris, 27, are both extreme sports enthusiasts, having logged plenty of time skateboarding, snowboarding, mountain biking, skiing and playing sports.

“Head injuries are a big factor in those sports,” he said, adding that they’ve each suffered no less than four concussions over the years.

With that in mind, the two athletes — both from Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo region, where Abbott works as a chef and Harris drives a cement truck — decided to embark across the country to encourage others to use helmets and to collect money for brain injury research and support.

They left from Vancouver’s City Hall on May 1 and, if all goes according to plan, will reach St. John’s — an 8,300 kilometre journey — within two-and-a-half to three months.

Because of wind, weather and other factors, their speed has varied, but Harris said they have clocked themselves at around 70 kilometres per hour.

Unlike regular skateboards, longboards are built for speed, allowing the rider to cruise along. Abbott said the wind has been a particular problem since they entered the prairies.

“Other than that, we’ve been doing pretty good,” he said.

The skaters are documenting their tour online at shred4acause.tumblr.com, which also features a link to donate to the Brain Injury Association via PayPal.

For more information, see Saturday's edition of the Times-Herald.

Geographic location: Canada

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