Meet Yohan & Chris
The Inspiration Behind the Cycle
Left to right – Gilles Bouchard, Yohan’s Father; Yohan Bouchard, the inspiration for the Cycle (and Walk!) for CMT; and Chris Ouellette, Event Founder and Yohan’s Uncle.
Chris: I was inspired to start the Cycle 4 CMT by my nephew, Yohan Bouchard, who was diagnosed with CMT, a progressive and currently incurable nerve disease at the age of 7 years old. I experienced Yohan’s ongoing battle with CMT from being an active kid enjoying snowboarding, walking, and hiking to abandoning these activities all together due to the complications of his CMT. My love for him drove my determination to find a cure for this disorder.
Yohan: Since I was 4 months old, every summer (and a few below-zero Christmas holidays) were spent visiting my mother’s side of the family. Vacations in Vermont were a blast – often the highlight of my year. I have such fond childhood memories of our adventures, which included spending time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and longtime friends.
In particular, I spent a lot of time with my Uncle Chris, fishing, hiking, and swimming. He also took me skiing and snowboarding. But, as my CMT progressed, it was more and more difficult for me to do the activities we enjoyed together. Over the years, I participated less and less in those outdoors activities, which are a big part of Uncle Chris’ life.
Throughout the years, Chris and I had grown very close; he was always there for me regardless of my abilities. He knew my muscles were getting progressively weaker and noticed I was becoming more limited in my physical capacities. It was hard for both of us to embrace the effects of CMT, but we always managed to find alternative activities, like fishing, swimming and goofing around.
Chris: In 2014, during a vacation with Yohan at a beach resort, I decided to turn my frustration with CMT to action. I really wanted to find a way provide Yohan and others with CMT the opportunity to experience outdoor activities that define Vermonters and their culture. So, I launched the Cycle (and Walk!) 4 CMT which accomplishes this vision through fundraising in support of research to stop the progression, find viable treatments, and prevent CMT in the future.
The funds raised go to the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA), whose mission is to support the development of new drugs to treat CMT, to improve the quality of life for those with CMT and ultimately to find a cure for the 3 million people worldwide who have the disease. From one to millions across the globe, this event’s ripple effect has been extensive and wide-spread.
Yohan: When my Uncle first brought up the idea of organizing a CMT fundraising event centered on cycling, I was impressed by his drive to actively raise money for a cure. Seeing how passionate Chris was when he explained his vision of the Cycle 4 CMT, I was convinced it would be a phenomenal successful.
Over the last eight years, the Cycle 4 CMT has shown me just how far my uncle, and all my family in Vermont are willing to go to support me in dealing with my CMT. After the second or third event, I decided to face my fears and try to ride a bike again. I wanted to show my Uncle Chris how much his effort, time and love meant to me.
Last year, after a lot of holding my breath, gaining confidence while I peddled on streets and swerved around people, I got back in the saddle. I was determined to actually ride alongside my mentor on one of the Cycle 4 CMT routes. Of course, COVID had other plans, but it did not stop me. I did cycle in the Virtual Cycle (and Walk!) 4 CMT event with my dad and a group of friends over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It felt so good to do the actual ride with my peers instead of sitting on the sidelines,
I’m so pumped to go to Vermont this year and finally ride with my Uncle Chris in the 8th Annual Cycle 4 CMT. I will realize this dream as I want to show Uncle Chris how all his work has inspired me to face my fears and overcome them. I am extremely fortunate to have a supportive, loving family and an Uncle who is willing to go the extra mile.
Chris: I cannot wait until Yohan and I have the opportunity to bike together. It would be a first, a first I long to experience and celebrate!
Join our family. Join our team. This is not just a fundraiser; it’s a community event bringing people together to beat CMT. It also gives Yohan and the many others with CMT hope for a much-needed treatment, one which will stop the progression of CMT. To date, the Cycle 4 CMT has raised more than 1.3 million dollars for CMT research. Join us. Get involved. Be part of the solution. Participate!