Man makes 400 km handbike trek to Humboldt, Sask., to share story of overcoming trauma

·2 min read
Students from Humboldt Collegiate Institute welcomed Brent Worrall to Humboldt as he cycled to the Elgar Petersen Arena on Sept. 12. (Becky Zimmer - image credit)
Students from Humboldt Collegiate Institute welcomed Brent Worrall to Humboldt as he cycled to the Elgar Petersen Arena on Sept. 12. (Becky Zimmer - image credit)

Brent Worrall found a community in his fellow trauma survivors.

The 56-year-old from Vernon, B.C., was paralyzed by a motocross accident in 2011, but by then his life had already been severely impacted by years of abuse, broken bones, and drug and gambling addictions.

On Monday, Worrall was in Humboldt, Sask., after traveling nearly 400 kilometres on his carbon-fibre handbike to talk about his journey toward mental wellness, his post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis and how writing a memoir helped him process his trauma.

"My personal experience has been that every challenge that I've come through, there's been personal growth and healing associated on the other side," Worrall said. "This road to Humboldt has been my proof of that."

Worrall started his journey five days earlier at the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in Swift Current, Sask. He put in 256 km in three days before pedalling into Saskatoon. From there, with help from members of Saskatoon Cycles, Worrall safely navigated his way through a busy Saskatoon Saturday, checking out the Broadway Festival and the University of Saskatchewan grounds.

He then continued on to Humboldt.

Becky Zimmer
Becky Zimmer

According to his Facebook page, Worrall averaged about 23.7 km/hr and nearly 16 hours a day in the cockpit by the time he finished his ride to Humboldt on Sept. 11.

"I wanted to do it to bridge those two communities, Swift Current and Humboldt, which will always be in my heart," he told a crowd of mostly high school and elementary school students in Humboldt.

Worrall was a junior hockey player in 1985. He said that when he first heard about the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6, 2018, he had Leesa Culp's book about the 1986 bus crash involving the Swift Current Broncos, Sudden Death, right in front of him, as his wife had just finished reading it.

Around that time he was also working through his own trauma by writing his memoir.

Becky Zimmer
Becky Zimmer

Being a trauma survivor, Worrall said he is happy to be a "voice of hope" for other people going through their own difficulties.

He said that for him, PTSD is no longer just an illness, but "an opportunity to be me and to be happy about who I am as a result of being honest and being true to myself."

Tyler Smith, a former Humboldt Bronco, was also heard from Monday. In a recorded message, Smith spoke about his experience with trauma and seeking help after the Broncos bus crash.

"Let's be honest, it's not easy to talk about, but I ultimately was just prolonging the suffering that was going on in my mind," Smith said.

Beyond speaking about seeking help themselves, both Worrall and Smith spoke about having compassion for other people.

"Everyone is fighting a battle that you have no idea about, and the least you can do is hold compassion and empathy for the people around you," said Smith.