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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex cyclist taking part in 8000km cross-Canada route for ALS

Photo submitted by Cheryl Zanella - Cross Canada Grampas Mike Tanner, Elio Zanella, Vokmar Bandermann, and John Greven.

by Sylene Argent

Avid cyclist, and Essex resident, Elio Zanella, has partnered with three other adventures, all above the age of 70, to embark on an 8000-kilometer cycling trip that will stretch across 10 provinces.

  The Cross Canada Grandpas began their journey with a kick off in Sarnia, before heading to Victoria, BC in late May, where they will dip their wheels in the Pacific Ocean. Their cross-Canada tour will end in August in St. John’s Newfoundland, where they will dip their tires into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

  Each of the four participants-Zanella, Mike Tanner, Volkmar Bandermann, and John Greven are riding for their health and to raise funds for a cause near and dear to their hearts. Zanella is raising funds for ALS, which his late wife, Felicia, had.

  Pledges to Zanella’s cause can be made at, where it explains his wife, Felicia, to whom he was married to for 42 years, was given a diagnosis of ALS in 2009. “By February of 2011 Felicia succumbed to this vicious illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“The support I received, both emotionally and materially by the ALS Society is so gratefully acknowledged,” Zanella wrote on the fundraising page.

  “I’m riding for her, to remember her,” he said, before he departed for the journey.

  Zanella planned to take part in a similar cross-Canada fundraising cycling tour five-years ago, but was unable to participate for a health-related issue. As a life-long cyclist, and with wanting to raise funds for ALS, he was devastated when he had to forfeit the 2013 trip, but is excited to participate now.

  Zanella’s friend, Dean Morais, took part in that trip five years ago, and will accompany the cyclists for a portion of the trip this summer to drive the camper and supplies.

  The riders, from Essex, Burlington, Stratford, and Sarnia, can be followed online at


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