June 18th, 2024

Manitoba soldier begins 1,000km ride to Lethbridge for PTSD awareness

By Dale Woodard on August 11, 2021.

Sgt. Rob Nederlof will be departing today from Wawanesa, Manitoba to start the 1,000km bike ride to Lethbridge for The Prairie Thousand ride, raising funds and awareness for Wounded Warriors Canada and the Support Dog Program. Submitted photo

A military sargeant from Manitoba is doing some peddling for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Lethbridge as the end point.
Sgt. Rob Nederlof departs today from Wawanesa, Manitoba – about 50km southeast of Brandon – to start the 1,000km bike ride to Lethbridge for The Prairie Thousand ride, raising funds and awareness for Wounded Warriors Canada and the Support Dog Program.
Having seen his share of people suffering from PTSD as a veteran of three tours of duty, Nederlof hopes to raise $5,000 to pay for part of the $15,000 cost of raising and training a PTSD support dog.
He and Marina plan to arrive in Lethbridge Aug. 19.
“Rob is very a much a cyclist, he loves biking,” said Nederlof’s wife, Marina. “He cycles 26km into work every single day he can and back home again and he’s done it pretty much all his life, as often as he could.”
Marina said she and her husband have some friends who use support dogs for a variety of reasons, such as a child with autism.
“Rob has a lot of friends in the military because of his tours and he has seen what PTSD does to people and he also knows the automatic assurance a dog can give to a person who is suffering from PTSD, it’s something another person just can’t do,” said Marina. “It’s absolutely debilitating and lately there have been more suicides because somebody has been suffering. They just don’t have a way out of it and we want to give somebody back their life. If somebody has a dog and that will do it for them, then that’s what we want to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s the military or police or a paramedic or dispatch.”
Marina said a PTSD support dog are working animals, not pets.
“I can’t imagine what kind of reassurance it is to have somebody or an animal who has your back in case you lose control and you aren’t able to react as a person knows they should react.”
Loud sounds can trigger a PTSD attack for a veteran, said Marina, adding fireworks can be especially bad.
“(It can be) any situation, people screaming and yelling. PTSD can be triggered by anything and a dog can sense that so much more than a person themselves. So the dog is a reassurance, almost like another part of the person. That’s their realization something is going to go wrong and they can depend on the dog.”
There are many ways a dog could react to a PTSD episode to fix the situation, said Marina.
“First and foremost, the dog would be distracting the person away from the trigger. If the person is sitting down the dog might jump up onto their lap and give them a comforting pressure or weight or lick their face to get them distracted from the sound, anything to get the sufferer’s brain off the focus of the traumatic trigger.”
Their goal is to raise $5,000, but the husband and wife team have raised the majority of that before they’ve even hit the road with donations already approaching the $4,000 mark.
“We’re almost at the 80 per cent mark, so that’s really encouraging. If we get more than $5,000, that’s fantastic,” said Marina, adding they’re encouraging people to donate directly through the Wounded Warriors website to get tax receipts.
As for choosing to wrap up the trip in Lethbridge, Marina said she and Rob have family here.
Lethbridge’s southern location also allows them to stay along the Trans-Canada Highway.
“It’s a decent ride and it’s about 1,000km,” said Marina.
The eight-day trip from Wawanesa to Lethbridge will average about 120km a day.
“Our shortest day is about 90km and the longest is almost 160km. We have to do that based on where we can camp,” said Marina, adding she’ll drive ahead of her husband in the support vehicle.
“I’ll park on the of the road and put up our Wounded Warriors flag and get the get cowbell out as he passes by. If he needs to stop for a snack or a drink or any kind of replenishment or refreshment, I’ll be there for him.”
Marina said the Brandon Police Service community cyclists are going to meet Rob in Shilo, roughly 25 km from Brandon for an escort into the city.
There are also talks with the Regina police to meet Rob when he rolls through the city.
“We’re going into Regina, we’re not doing the bypass,” said Marina. “So we’ve been talking to them and there’s a possibility of an escort and a mental health support unit. It’s going really well. We’ve been incredibly blessed.”
On the final day of the ride, Marina said they’ll start in Bow Island and hopefully wind up at Brewery Gardens when they get to Lethbridge.
Those wanting to track Rob and Marina’s journey can follow them on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PrairieThousand.
“We’re going to be some some video and taking pictures during the day and posting those every evening,” said Marina, adding there is also a link for donating on the Facebook page.

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This is a great organization to support and I wish him well!
You don’t here in the news much about the thousands of troops that are deployed around the world, and many that are in harms way due to the blackout on special operations reports. The Afghanistan war ended leaving many of our troops to heal and they still need our support, as do others from other operations!
I wish you great success in your mission and that you will achieve your goal with even more than you could imagine!