Halifax Heroes: Meet a woman cycling across Canada to honour her late friend
Grace McNee lost her friend Sarah Dube last year and is now raising funds and awareness for Independent Living Nova Scotia.
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Sarah Dube touched many lives in her 28 years, including the life of her personal care worker and friend Grace McNee.
Dube died on Nov. 28, just a few weeks before her 29th birthday. Born with muscular dystrophy, Dube was a dynamo who donated her time to charities, travelled extensively and was well regarded as a local philanthropist.
“Sarah helped me start looking at the world in a different way, and when she passed away in late November 2016 I was finding myself missing her a lot and feeling like life was short,” McNee said.
With that in mind, McNee, 25, decided to cycle across Canada to raise funds and awareness for Independent Living Nova Scotia (ILNS) to honour the memory of her friend.
“Sarah was really strong-willed, just like the most fiercely independent person I ever knew. She really inspired me. I came to know ILNS through coming to meetings with her,” McNee recalled.
“She co-chaired the board and it was a cause that was really near and dear to her, relevant to her life and just a really fantastic organization. She helped me start looking at the world in a different way.”
On June 22, McNee set off from Vancouver with the intention of raising $5,000 for ILNS.
Last Wednesday, she had cycled all the way back to Halifax, with another two or three weeks to go before finishing her cross-Canada trek in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
To date she has raised more than $9,000 and has set a new fundraising goal of $10,000.
“Even though I’m raising money specifically for ILNS it has been raising awareness for independent living across the country, which is really important,” McNee said.
“As I travelled across Canada I have had people reach out and say ‘It’s amazing what you’re doing. I have a family member who’s involved with independent living and it means so much that you’re taking this on.’ Awareness is important.”
Matt Spurway, a volunteer board member with ILNS, nominated McNee as a Halifax Hero.
“Sarah was an incredible person. She touched a lot of people in her too-short life, including Grace, who was working for Sarah as a personal care assistant,” Spurway said.
“Grace has taken on this effort entirely on her own accord. Self-funded, self-managed, and along the way has raised close to ten thousand dollars for ILNS here is Halifax, which for us is a huge amount of money.”
McNee said she likes to think Dube would approve of her journey and efforts to raise awareness and funds for independent living. She doesn’t consider herself a hero, and hopes to continue finding ways to marry adventure with community work.
“It was just really important for me to honour her memory, and it has been really nice that a lot of people who were close to Sarah have been touched by this,” she said.
“If anyone maybe wanted an outlet to honour her memory and didn’t know exactly how, this has allowed them to contribute as well and so that has been very nice.”
To follow McNee’s adventures or to donate to the cause, visit https://graceonabike.wordpress.com.
Do you have someone to nominate?
Each Monday, we will profile an unsung volunteer hero in our community as part of Halifax Heroes. To nominate someone, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Metro Halifax's managing editor, or Tweet @metrohalifax using the hashtag #Halifaxheroes