My name is Matthieu Bonin and although I am swimming 350km around Manitoulin island, I am not a professional swimmer. I actually quit swimming lessons out of frustration when I was younger. A broken foot at the end of 2020 lead me to start swimming again. At that time, I struggled to swim a single 50m pool length.
My life's purpose is written in my mirror and I look at it every day : "I am a light for dark places." I began swimming to support Camp Quality, a summer camp for kids affected by cancer. I organized the Around the World for Camp Quality Fundraiser for which I swam across 20 lakes in the summer of 2021 and raised 5000$.
I did not think it was a realistic goal, but I swam across lake Wanapitei, the largest lake in the world contained within city limits, only 9 months after I started swimming. The spirit of my friends Kris and Lesley's son Evvy Cacciotti gave me the inner fire I needed to complete this swim. I was so new to swimming that I could not breathe on both sides, I had to time my breaths between the white caps. I am pleased to say that this swim raised 12 500$ for the NEO Kids hospital to help kids in need like Evvy.
This latest 350km swim around Manitoulin island also does not seem like an achievable goal, but that has not stopped me yet. Like childhood cancer, and a friend's son dying, M.S. is a dark place. I saw it slowly take away my Aunt Claire's ability to walk, talk and in the end her life. She was a prisoner of her own body and my family had to helplessly watch it happen. The thought that other families have to go through this painful process hurts my soul. I swim with the hope of a cure, with the hope that such suffering is preventable. This is such a colossal goal that I cannot achieve it on my own, I need your help!
In July 2022, I will swim 350km around Manitoulin Island to raise funds and awareness for M.S. research. I will do this to honour the memory of my aunt Claire and others like her who have suffered/suffer from this illness. I hope this makes people question what is truly possible if we believe in something and that ultimately this leads to a cure for M.S.
Photo Credit: Pat Boileau
INSPIRATION: I want to inspire people and show them what is possible. If someone who was very out of shape and who struggled to swim a single pool length can swim around Manitoulin Island what is truly possible? I hope this inspires future researchers to discover treatments and the cure for M.S.. I also hope it inspires people to get active for a cause that is important to them.
HONOUR: I want to honour the memory of my aunt Claire. I want to give a voice to the voiceless, those who suffer in silence from this illness. Through my courage I want to highlight theirs.
COMMUNITY: I want to build a community of people who are striving to build a better world. I want to connect people and families who suffer from this illness to normalize their experience. I want to connect researchers who are striving to cure this illness.
RELATIONSHIPS: I want to meet interesting people and build life long positive relationships.
FITNESS: I want to get into the best shape of my life through my training and inspire others to do the same.
Where Will My Donations Go?
Matt has committed to raising funds via the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada's We Challenge MS Campaign.
We Challenge MS is a nationwide movement turning people’s ordinary hobbies into extraordinary actions. Achieving a world free of multiple sclerosis takes more than one person, and there isn’t just one way to accomplish it, but we know that every action brings us closer to this future when we choose to act together.
Whether you choose to create, stream, write, game, craft, walk, share, cycle, bake, run however you choose to challenge MS, know that we #WeChallengeMS together.
Learn More about MS and why funds are so desperately needed by visiting the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada's website.