Oregon’s new destination for 300-mile wheelchair ride
SEATTLE – A Kirkland woman with cerebral palsy is re-routing her 300-mile charity wheelchair ride after running into a bureaucratic barrier.
Tania Finlayson – who has been confined to a wheelchair since birth — had planned to leave Saturday on a 300-mile trek to Spokane. Her goal: raising $42,000 for Guide Dogs of America and helping people who she considers to be less fortunate than her.
She was calling her effort the “Spokane Dash for Puppy Cash.” As of Friday, she was nearly half way to her fundraising goal.
But late on Friday, she and her husband, Ken, were informed that the Washington Department of Transportation will not allow the charity ride to proceed along Interstate 90, citing safety concerns.
Determined to go ahead with her fundraising, Tania now says she will go to Oregon instead, following the route of the annual Seattle-to-Portland bicycle tour most of the way.
“My Dad said, if you cannot change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails,” she said, using a computer that she controls by typing Morse code with her head
“The wind tends to go against me more than I would like, but I have not let that stop me,” Finlayson continued. ”I will adjust my sails.”
Under the revised plan, Finlayson will take part in the annual Flight for Sight fun run in Everett on Saturday morning, then leave from there on her 300-mile “Oregon Dash for Puppy Cash,” heading south along the Interurban Trail in Snohomish County at first.
After that, she will follow bike trails and side roads that parallel Interstate 5 until she gets to Dallas, Ore., which is 300 miles from Everett. Ken will accompany her on a bicycle.
The Finlaysons will be supported along the way by their family and by a team from Machinists Union District Lodge 751 in Seattle.
District 751 is Guide Dogs of America’s top fundraiser in North America. Over the past four years, the union has raised more than $1 million for the California-based charity. Ken Finlayson works for the union as an information technology technician.
The Flight for Sight fun run is one of the events District 751 sponsors each year to raise money for Guide Dogs. The event includes timed 5K and 10K runs on a course certified by USA Track & Field, plus a non-competitive one-mile walk. For information on the run, go online at www.FlightForSight.com
It’s fitting that Tania starts the 300-mile trip at this year’s Flight for Sight, Ken Finlayson said. Tania came up with the idea for the 300-mile trek after joining him in last year’s 10K run at the fun run.
“I thought she was crazy,” Ken said. “But, I mean, she’s come up with a lot of crazy things. We met skydiving.”
“People with disabilities face a lot of roadblocks that the rest of us never have to consider,” he said. “Bicyclists, for example, ride I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass every day.”
But Tania’s determined to do her 300-mile trip, whatever direction she has to take.
“One thing I learned about Tania,” Ken continued, “is that it’s a lot more comfortable and safer to get behind her when she gets her mind in something, than get in front of her. Because if you get in front of her, she’ll probably just run you over.”
In addition, Tony’s Sports Bar & Grill at 14417 124th Ave. NE in Kirkland plans an all day car wash Saturday, June 8, to raise money for Tania’s trek.