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Man’s bike ride to fundraise for local animal shelter takes unexpected turn


TETONIA — A man who set out on a 2,400-mile bike ride to raise money for a local animal shelter faced a change of plans when his bike was stolen.

Ed Couillard of Tetonia told his trip changed once he was six days in.

Couillard had told in June that he was raising money for PAWS of Teton Valley, a nonprofit animal shelter in Driggs. He is a big animal supporter and has a dog named Sadie that he’s adopted.

RELATED | Man will set out on 2,400-mile bike ride to raise money for local animal shelter

“She is the love of our lives, and we can’t imagine life without her because she is such a good little friend. Thank God for the shelter taking good care of her,” he said.

Couillard’s plan was to fundraise for the shelter by riding his bicycle across a significant portion of the United States, and his goal was to raise $2,400, which was $1 per mile. He is an avid biker.

He expected to finish his bike ride by Aug. 10.

Couillard started in Wyoming, and he was going to end in New Hampshire, where his daughter lives.

“I got in just a little over 300 miles. I was in Nebraska. I had to do a little bit of a detour,” he said.

At this point, Couillard was six days into biking and went camping in a tiny town for the night.

“Got up in the morning, I had my bike cabled to a picnic table. Got up after 5 a.m. and started to take my tent down, and I never thought of it — I looked over there and there’s my trailer, my shoes, my helmet, my coat, my vest and no bike,” said Couillard. “I went walking around in the neighborhood for a little bit, and I didn’t find it anywhere.”

This essentially left Couillard stranded with no way to finish pedaling for the fundraiser and no apparent way to get home.

He called the local sheriff. He said the sheriff came to pick him up and he drove him around.

“We rode around the whole town back and forth through the streets and never found anything. He proceeded to drive me 45 miles, where we met another sheriff, who proceeded to drive me another 65 miles to a town where they thought I could get a rental car, but the rental cars had to be returned to where you got it,” he said.

Couillard said he bought a plane ticket home in the small town of Chadron because he wasn’t able to spend $3,000 to $4,000 on a new bike. In addition, there was no bike shop for more than 100 miles.

The sheriff took him around town and got him to a hotel and even drove him to get food.

“As nice as you can get to help out somebody. How good can people be? “ said Couillard.

When Couillard finally flew home on June 30, he didn’t know what to do since he had received so many donations for the animal shelter and had planned to go on a 2,400-mile bike ride.

“My wife comes up and says, ‘Well, why don’t you try doing a challenge of walking? Why don’t you try hiking and walking 500 miles in five weeks?’ and I go, ‘That’s a good challenge,’” Couillard said.

The next day, he started climbing. He went to a lot of different places in a span of just 30 days.

“I was out here in the Tetons and in the wilderness. I was walking seven days a week. I didn’t take a break. I walked every day and hiked every day. I camped in Teton Canyon for eight days, and all I did was mountain climb and hike into the backcountry,” he said.

He decided he wanted to see his daughter in New Hampshire, too, as he was originally supposed to end his bike ride there. He flew to see her. He ended up doing a final hike with others who wanted to join him.

“Climbed Mount Washington in New Hampshire and summited the mountain in a 55-mile-hour wind and rain, but we did it,” he said.

Couillard returned home Wednesday night and estimates in total that he did around 850 miles with walking, hiking and biking. He completed the challenge his wife came up with.

“I completed my 500 miles in 30 days,” he said. “Bad things turned to good. I still raised the money.”

Couillard said he met a lot of people and told him what he was fundraising for. He said people were generous and even gave him $20 bills out in the middle of the woods for his cause.

He was able to raise at least $2,300 on his Facebook page for PAWS and said he is very grateful to everyone who donated.

PAWS gave him some signs with a Venmo code during his fundraising efforts so it would be easy for people to support him.

Despite the challenges he faced, Couillard is already thinking about what he might do next year and hopes to do another similar challenge by biking and raising money.

out in the wilderness
Ed Couillard walking in the wilderness. | Courtesy Ed Couillard

bike journey

Ed Couillard on his walking journey raising money for PAWS. | Courtesy Ed Couillard

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