You could call cycling enthusiast Fred Enns an adventure taker, but also an advocate for others in vulnerable situations.

Enns has been an avid cyclist for years and has gone on a number of biking tours, but this one was different, He took it as an opportunity to spread awareness about the war in Ukraine while he made his way through about 120 communities.

Enns who is now 80 years old was raised on a farm just south of La Salle until he was 18, when he left the rural life for the City of Winnipeg.

Fred takes a pause next to a field of sunflowers. (submitted)Fred takes a pause next to a field of sunflowers. (submitted)

Fred takes a pause next to a field of sunflowers. (submitted)

Enns's parents fled Ukraine for a more secure life in Canada when Joseph Stalin caused the starvation and death of millions of people in their home country.

"The little village that my parents lived in is, today, Zaporizhzhia, and that's where the large nuclear plants are," said Enns. "And so in my little head, I'm thinking, Mr. Putin, you've annexed this area and that's where my parents lived and had to flee from, so it's getting a little personal." 

Enns said seeing the number of Ukrainian newcomers coming to Canada once again to flee what happened 100 years ago, is something he can relate to.

Seeing a similar situation going on again, Enns said it felt more personal, and he needed to do something.

The only thing that came to mind was doing what he enjoys doing, challenging himself, and touring on his bicycle.

"I decided to use the bicycle as a way of creating awareness," said Enns.." And it's not that people in these small towns of Manitoba and cities weren't aware of what happened in Ukraine, but from a personal standpoint, I could remind them that there's an opportunity to do something about it, and to assist them. So that was my motivation."

Fred in the southwestern Manitoba Town of Melita. (Submitted)Fred in the southwestern Manitoba Town of Melita. (Submitted)

Fred in the southwestern Manitoba Town of Melita. (Submitted)

On July 18th, Enns set out from Winnipeg on a nearly 3,000-kilometre bicycle ride across Southern Manitoba with a goal to travel at least 100 km a day on his journey.

Some of the 120 communities Enns traveled through, included: Winnipeg, St Adolphe, Niverville, St Pierre, St Malo, Grunthal, Steinbach, La Broquerie, St Anne, Anola, Beausajeaur, Elma, Red Rock Lake in the Whiteshell, Lac Du Bonnet, St Georges, Victoria Beach, Lester Beach, Gimili, Ericksdale, Ashern, across The Narrows, St Rose Du Lac, Libau, Selkirk, Winnipeg Beach, Arborg, Dauphin Beach, Swan River (most northwesterly point), Sandy Lake, Neepawa, Minnedosa, Brandon, Souris, Melita (most southwesterly point), Killarney, Cartwright, Holland, Glenboro, Gladstone, Portage La Prairie, Rathwell, St Claude, Manitou, Morden, Winkler, Altona, Morris, La Salle, Oak Bluff, Sperling, Carman, Elm Creek, Fannystelle, and Stonewall.

On the last day of cycling, on Wednesday, August 16, Enns began his day in Stonewall, then traveled through Lockport, Oakbank, Dugald, Lorrette, and Ile des Chenes.

Enns completed his bike tour two days early, arriving in Winnipeg on Wednesday where he also spent time at the Ukrainian Pavilion at Folkarama.

Fred Enns during his Ride 4 Ukraine (Submitted)Fred Enns during his Ride 4 Ukraine (Submitted)

Fred Enns during his Ride 4 Ukraine (Submitted)

As each day of his tour went by, Enns shared what kept him going when the journey got tough.

"That's when I'm focusing in my head on what these people coming to Manitoba, what they experience. And I'm thinking of their kids being taken from their friends, taken from their schools, their environment, their home, and brought into a strange country for them. Some of them with difficulties with the English language and had been distributed in various parts of the province, and I'm sure maybe missing their grandpas and grandmas. And so a little bit of mental exercise in that direction corrected any kind of whining about conditions," said Enns.

"I'm very pleased that the condition of my health and the condition of my equipment and bicycle did not interfere with that," noted Enns. "I'm lucky that I remained healthy and got stronger as it progressed. And that helped me to finish it."

As he spoke to people along his journey, Enns said he also provided them with a card detailing what he was doing and why. The card also contained information on how to donate to the ongoing need through the Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Manitoba Provincial Council. 

Enns did not collect pledges or accept donations along the way. He says his goal was to bring continued awareness and share information on how to give.

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