Nick Giacomantonio


Nick Giacomantonio

Occupation/Background: Cardiologist, Director of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation CDHA, Associate Professor of Medicine Dalhousie University Program and Translational Research.

My Role (aka “core chore”): President Cardiac Cycle Society NS and leader of Heartland Tour strategic development of provincial programming in prevention. Involved in population health evaluation and change, as well as development and growth of sustainable partnerships of measurable change models.

Why I am involved: To get to know the communities, unite common health agendas, and help promote the province and its people! To make a real and sustainable difference!

Carmen Giacomantonio Carmen Giacomantonio

Occupation/Background: Associate Professor and Clinical Scientist, Department of Surgery, Dalhousie University; Chief Medical Director of Cancer Care Nova Scotia. Dr. Carmen Giacomantonio was born in Sydney, NS, is married with 4 children.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Board member and core rider.

Why I am involved: I am proud to be part of this group of true community leaders and combine my efforts with Nick and the HLT to promote the good that comes from physical activity and healthy living. The Heartland Tour upholds all the values and beliefs that I support and promote; those being, that healthy living, community involvement and physical activity are the way to a better life. Year after year the evidence continues to amass supporting the benefits of healthy living and physical activity and reducing cancer incidence and improving survival rates for people affected by cancer. Cancer is the number 1 killer in Nova Scotia and the single most important thing we can do as a people in changing this fact is to change the way we live. The Heartland tour gives me an opportunity to spread that message and in no way competes with the good message that in doing so we also reduce our risk of developing cardiovascular disease; the number 2 killer in Nova Scotia.

Ron Allen Ron Allen

Occupation/Background: I live beside the beautiful Lahave River just outside Bridgewater. I retired from Michelin after thirty six years of service, primarily in Maintenance and Human Resources. I like to stay physically active for my health and I particularly enjoy triathlons. Since I started (in 2001 at the age of 56), I have completed seven Ironman events!

My Role (aka “core chore”): I have been involved with the Heartland Tour since it’s beginning in 2007 and have participated each year as a member of the core team. I am also on the board of directors. In addition to my board role, I am one of the community leaders for the Lunenburg County area.

Why I am involved: When I look around our Province and see the results of the lack of physical activity, unhealthy habits, and obesity, I understand the burden that it puts on our health care systems. I feel it is my responsibility to get involved. I need to do my part and do what I can to help myself. By being involved with the Heartland Tour, I am feel I am leading by example. I will continue to support this initiative as long as I am welcome and able!

Katherine Saulnier Katherine Saulnier

Occupation/Background: Nursing. I started my nursing career as a critical care nurse, so when the Heart Land Tour launched, with its strong heart health message, I jumped at the opportunity to sign on as a Core Team member. I now work as District Coordinator for Cardiovascular Health NS, as well as Clinical Associate for St. Francis Xavier University School of Nursing. I have always celebrated each day of good health, and am known for “convincing” others into doing the same!

My Role (aka “core chore”): I am a member of the Pictou County Heart Land Tour team, sharing the leadership with my other ‘Core” members from this community. The “chore” we are challenged with each year, is creating and delivering a full day of activities when the tour passes through our community. We have partnered with the Lobster Carnival in Pictou, entering our bus, bikes, and riders in the parade. We have also participated in the Run for the Lobster Road race, Yoga in Scotsburn, waterslide fun at Stellarton Recreation, and Cardiac Rehab exercises at New Glasgow YMCA. We have eaten more Sam’s pizza in one sitting than is humanly possible, making Pictou County residents very proud! I have been a core member every year since the Tour launched. I am also on the Board of Directors, in the Secretary role, trying to master note taking as fast as Nick can talk!

Why I am involved: It’s about optimizing every day of being alive; preventing the diseases I see in my practice. It’s about not wasting “what my mama gave me”. It’s about inspiring other “average joes” just like me, to do the same. Most of all, it’s about having way too much fun!

Mike Saulnier Mike Saulnier

Occupation/Background: Heavy equipment operator. Mike is married with 2 sons. He volunteers as a medical first responder for EHS and as a volunteer firefighter for Salmon River Fire Department.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Board member, core rider, and Yarmouth community organizer.

Why I am involved: At age 28, Saulnier was diagnosed with heart condition and was advised by physician to choose a healthier lifestyle. HLT is one part of his transition to heart health, which has greatly benefited his life!

Andrew Dacanay Jack Harding

Occupation/Background: Founder of Trips For Kids Yarmouth (a non-profit organization geared to providing free cycling programs for youth).

My Role (aka “core chore”): Board Member and member of Yarmouth organizing committee.

Why I am involved: Jack has toured much of Canada by bicycle, his longest tour was 5000 km and he truly believes in living an active healthy lifestyle everyday!

Roger Pitman Roger Pitman

Occupation/Background: Accountant/Bookkeeper

My Role (aka “core chore”): Treasurer for the Heartland Tour organizing committee and an active participant in the planning of the Yarmouth leg of the Tour.

Why I am involved: I believe that is important to get the message out to as many people as possible. My family has a history of heart disease on both of parent’s families so it is my goal to help lead by example. Exercise is a great way to help reduce this risk to your heart health and bicycling is one of the best ways to improve your overall fitness. If we can each reach just one person in each of the communities that we visit with this message we will be able positively impact a great deal of people in this province. Each journey begins with one step or in this case one revolution of a crank. We have a great opportunity to help Nova Scotians realize that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.Last but certainly not the least, it is a great way to meet wonderful people and have an enjoyable time cycling around the beautiful province of Nova Scotia!

Jim Vance Jim Vance

Occupation/Background: Retired public servant and Nova Scotia Trails Federation Executive Director. I studied (Dalhousie University) and worked in public policy fields as well as human resource management and labour relations. The most rewarding segment of my career was in highway safety, where I was directly involved with the introduction of laws making bicycle helmets mandatory for all ages, new driver graduated driver licensing program and strengthened impaired driving countermeasures.

My Role (aka “core chore”): In addition to assisting with the organization in Pictou County, I will be acting as the Infrastructure and Active Transportation Representative for the Heartland Tour at the provincial level. An important goal is to help ensure Nova Scotians have safe and convenient places to ride for transportation and recreational purposes thereby removing some of the barriers to cycling. I look forward to working cooperatively with others to building a cycling culture among Nova Scotians of all ages and abilities.

Why I am involved: I have always felt the personal need to give back to the community. When a knee injury made hiking difficult I returned to cycling as my preferred outdoor recreation and means of maintaining my fitness level. The opportunity to combine my passion for cycling with for a province-wide initiative to encourage Nova Scotians to safeguard their health through a more active lifestyle was one I could not let pass. In fact it is an extension of my volunteer activity over the past 15 years. An elevated blood pressure is my only health concern which cycling helps me to manage. This does provide a direct personal connection to the basic premise of the Heartland Tour.

Tyler Rogers Tyler Rogers

Occupation/Background: Data Networking Specialist, Photographer

My Role (aka “core chore”): Heartland Tour Website manager, Photographer and Core team rider.

Why I am involved: To share the experience of cycling with others, and encourage everyone to get out and ride a bike. Being able to combine my photography skills and my love of cycling makes the Heartland Tour an incredible way to spend a week seeing our beautiful province! For the rest of the year I look after the website, organize the hundreds of photos we take every year, and keep things running smoothly.

Jake Blacklaws Jake Blacklaws

Occupation/Background: Graduate student in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Jake does research into the connections in the spinal cord that allow us to coordinate movement, such as running, walking, or – as we’re doing in the HeartLand Tour – biking! “My strong interest in community health began when I worked as part of a team through Cancer Care Nova Scotia, promoting skin cancer prevention by avoiding the harmful effects of tanning beds”.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Executive Director/Logistics support.

Why I am involved: “I am excited to be a part of the HeartLand Tour this year not only to promote healthy activity, but also to see the beauty and experience the wonderful people of Nova Scotia.”

Heartland Tour Core Riders and Community Leaders

Dan MacDonald

Dan MacDonald

Occupation/Background: Vice President of Marketing with Eastlink.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Core rider and Eastlink Corporate Sponsorship contact. Dan is responsible for developing helping promote HLT and is an essential part of the marketing team.

Why I am involved: I ride the Heartland Tour to; set an example, meet fascinating people and to see our great province from a unique perspective.

Al Pottier

Al Pottier

Occupation/Background: Al has been actively involved in the running and triathlon community for several years and is a founding member of the Halifax Running Club. He is currently on the Executive of the Halifax Triathlon Club and has successfully completed several marathons/triathlons as well as an Ironman competition! Unfortunately, Al was not always this active until somewhat later in life when he had to deal with kidney cancer followed by a cardiac condition requiring angioplasty and a stent. Since these life-changing events occurred, Al has attempted to lead an active lifestyle with routine running, swimming and biking. Al worked for the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, Correctional Services Division for over 34 years before retiring in 2009. Originally from Sainte Anne-du-Ruisseau, Yarmouth County, Al and his wife Marg have lived in HRM for over 37 years. Their two children, now grown, have pursued teaching careers.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Al has assisted with the development of the NS Heartland Tour website, developing content for the “Health and Safety” section of the site.

Why I am involved: Al is proud and excited to be associated with the Nova Scotia Heartland Tour core team and looks forward to assisting in promoting active and healthy lifestyles. He hopes he can be a role model for others wish to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle regardless of age or health challenges.

Vicki Giacomantonio

Vicki Giacomantonio

Occupation/Background: Dental Hygienist, an avid runner and in the past few years, biking has become a new love of mine!

My Role (aka “core chore”): My job as a Core Member is co-lead of Halifax organizing group, organizing and ordering jerseys and T-shirts.

Why I am involved: Giacomantonio believes that we need to change our communities action plan toward Heart Health so that we all will benefit; young and old, today and tomorrow! She also feels that HLT is a great example and stimulus for her three children, Dom, Sarah, and Nichole.

Terri Aker

Terri Aker

Occupation/Background: Communications Nova Scotia, Marketing

My Role (aka “core chore”): Marketing and Media team lead

Why I am involved: I live and breathe “Healthy Living” into my life everyday and am honored to be a part of Heartland where I can help promote the importance of this vital message to Nova Scotians, and at the same time, ride the wonderful journey every kilometer of the way with the Core Team.

Yolande LeVert

Yolande LeVert

Occupation/Background: Chief Financial Officer, Cape Breton District Health Authority I have worked in health care in various roles for the past 22 years. I am a gym rat as well as an avid cyclist, a hiker, skier, and this year walking the Ottawa marathon. I am also a strong believer that an active, healthy lifestyle significantly increases a person’s quality of life.

My Role (aka “core chore”): I am organizing the Cape Breton ride – all logistics and local promotion.

Why I am involved: Because I love cycling and being physically active. It is such a privilege to ride with a group of cyclists whose heart is into promoting active and healthy lifestyles for all ages. Travelling throughout the province is very rewarding, especially when introduced to physically active enthusiasts during the rides. These are the people who like us promote healthy lifestyles where they live. As a core member I want to help increase the impact of the Heartland Tour in our communities. This year in Cape Breton the ride will include several small communities. I hope that with proper promotion the impact on these communities will be lasting.

Leah Nolan

Leah Nolan

Occupation/Background: Referral Officer for the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre. I have worked in health care since 1978. Diagnostic Imaging, NS Eye Centre, Same Day Surgery and now the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre Referral Office.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Co-lead for the Halifax HLT team. Halifax logistics and marketing, as well as fundraising prizes/donations.

Why I am involved: Heart Disease is in my family, as well, Cancer and Depression have been issues that I have dealt with. I have known first hand the huge rewards of eating healthy and being physically active. Riding my bike, walking daily is a win/win as it keeps my heart healthy, bones strong and mind fresh. I even did cross country skiing for the first time this year! I have believed passionately in the Heartland Tour and the message it brings to Nova Scotia Communities. I am excited to help promote such a worthy message of how we can improve our own health and that of our families!

Raj Makkar

Raj Makkar

Occupation/Background: Manager of Cardio-Respiratory Services at Colchester East Hants Health Authority in Truro, Nova Scotia.

My Role (aka “core chore”): I am the Community Organizer for the Truro portion of the Heartland Tour. I organize the events that are held in Truro on Tuesday, July 10th at beautiful Victoria Park in Truro. I also make sure that the event is well promoted through newspaper, radio, social network, flyers and posters.

Why I am involved: Although, I do not ride in the Heartland Tour, I am strong supporter of physical activity in the community. I have been involved with organizing the Heartland Tour in Truro for the past three years. The event keeps getting bigger and bigger in Truro, which is awesome. I really believe the greatest gift you can give yourself is your health.

Gordon Young

Occupation/Background: Family Physician

My Role (aka “core chore”): Pictou County Organizer

Why I am involved: The Heartland Tour uses the best things about exercise (particularly creating a challenge and a supportive group to cycle with) to promote healthy lifestyles – it’s something young Nova Scotians need to hear. As someone who sees patients before they get sick, he understands the power of prevention. “For me the Heartland Tour is about change, but that change is going to be gradual. Thirty years ago I used to jog and everyone thought it was weird, especially in Pictou. Now, everyone is running.”

Ruth Saulnier

Ruth Saulnier

Occupation/Background: Continuing care assistant for Digby Clare Home Support. Ruth is married to Mike with 2 sons. She volunteers as a medical first responder for EHS and as a volunteer firefighter for Salmon River Fire Department.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Community leader and Yarmouth organizer.

Why I am involved: In fall of 2008, Saulnier was diagnosed with heart condition and had a pacemaker surgically implanted in Jan. 2009. “Exercising is part of my life,” says Saulnier, “but it helps that cycling is a passion of mine.”

Don Cook
Don Cook

Occupation/Background: CEO of Cook’s Dairy Farm Ltd.

Why I am involved: Don Cook was taken by surprise when an EKG exam detected he had an irregular heartbeat and he had failed a stress test. Don, a proud family man, was not about to sit back and let his health deteriorate to the point where he would not be able to live life to its fullest. To incorporate a healthier lifestyle into his already busy schedule, he started biking on a regular basis. Initially, Don picked up mountain biking and, while on a bike tour of Prince Edward Island during the summer of 2007, some friends recommended he start using a road bike. Since that time, Don has become passionate about cycling.

Elaine Swartz
Elaine Swartz

Occupation/Background: Fitness Instructor CB Family YMCA HCV Hepatitis C Therapy support nurse with MERCK Care Program Cervical Cancer Screening and Early Detection Program CCNS, Cape Breton Region

My Role (aka “core chore”): Core rider and Sydney community organizer

Why I am involved: Personal Focus is primary and secondary chronic disease prevention. The prevalence of these conditions is unfortunately on the rise in Nova Scotia. For more than 20 years, I have committed my philosophy and practice to my community and family that one may optimize their health exponentially by exercising 5 times /week. My favorite saying is “just move more and life will eventually get easier” I try to role model for those living with chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, type 1 diabetes, mental illness and addictions. My philosophy of wellness is described as an ongoing optimal balance of body, mind and spirit. I am convinced that cycling and cross training 5 days/week year round keep me optimally mentally and physically well, and that the benefits of healthy eating and exercising daily outweigh the risks.

Hughie Fraser

Hughie Fraser

Occupation/Background: Gastroenterologist and General Internist. I completed my medical training at the University of Calgary and currently work in Bridgewater with my wife and two children.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Core rider and Bridgewater community organizer

Why I am involved: I am very excited to be involved in the Heartland Tour as I have thought about joining the Heartland Tour since moving back to Nova Scotia in 2010. This event perfectly aligns with the lifestyle my family and I live and is the active lifestyle all Nova Scotians should strive for in order to be healthy and happy. As a physician, I ‘walk the walk” and encourage and demonstrate to my patients that a healthy, active lifestyle is possible. In the long run, the time invested in so-called “exercise” contributes to a healthy, happy life with significantly fewer health problems. Besides promoting an active, healthy lifestyle, I am looking forward to meeting everyone on the Heartland Tour Team and all those participating throughout Nova Scotia on the rides. Cycling around Nova Scotia is a great way to spend a week in July!

Kimble Meagher

Kimble Meagher

Occupation/Background: I am presently retired and fortunate to be living in beautiful Mahone Bay. I have a Chemical Engineering degree from St.F.X / TUNS. I worked 30 years in the Oil and Gas Industry mainly in Western Canada and had the opportunity to work in Russia and live in Indonesia. I have done several bike tours throughout Canada / United States / New Zealand / Tasmania / Asia / Europe. I live an active life with interest in cycling / running / kayaking / hiking / skiing and general outdoor activities. I have completed several marathons and half Ironman Triathalons.

My Role (aka “core chore”): I have been involved with the Heartland Tour since 2014. I am a member of the Bridgewater Heartland Tour Team.

Why I am involved: I enjoy and see the many benefits of being physically active and the Heartland Tour supports the value of a healthy, active lifestyle. Getting involved with the Heartland Tour allows me the opportunity to be an active leader in promoting / providing awareness of the benefits of living a healthy and active life which will have a positive impact to our communities and Nova Scotia.

Heartland Tour Past Participants and Supporters

Ross Haynes
Ross Haynes

Occupation/Background: Ross is well known to CBC audiences for his three-year stint on the weekly political panel on the evening news telecast, Canada Now: Politics Now, and his regular radio broadcast on Information Morning, Ross Haynes: Always on the Right. As well as cycling, he enjoys hiking and canoeing, and in past years was also a runner. Ross, who lives in Halifax with his wife Kathryn, has three daughters and a son, two step-sons, and six young grandchildren. He recently retired from McInnes Cooper.

Why I am involved: Back in 2007, Ross Haynes QC became one of the founding members of the HeartLand Tour. After raising thousands of dollars for the MS Society during its annual cycling events – and with the rapid approach of 61 – he had decided it was time to look for a new challenge. With its worthwhile objective and good biking, the cross-province inaugural Heartland Tour sounded just right. As soon as he read about the Tour, Ross signed up to ride and pledged his Halifax-based firm, Haynes Law, as an event sponsor. That first year was so great, Ross rode again the next year, continued his firm’s sponsorship and took on the role of vice president of the Cardiac Cycle Society of Nova Scotia, the organization behind the HeartLand Tour.

Chris Milburn

Chris Milburn

Occupation/Background: ER physician. Chris was born and raised in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He moved back home after spending almost 17 years in various parts of Canada and is currently working in ER and in injury rehabilitation. Chris is currently an executive member of Velo Cape Breton after being president for several years. He is a founding member of ADAPT (the Association of Doctors for the Advancement of Physically-active Transportation) – a group of over 40 physicians in Nova Scotia. He organizes a master’s swim team in Sydney, coaches running, and is active in triathlon and running races.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Core rider and Cape Breton community organizer.

Why I am involved: Chris has long been involved with environmental and health issues, and these dual interests have led him to his current main interest of promoting active transportation (and thereby decreased use of motor vehicles and fossil fuel) through community design. The Heartland Tour was therefore a natural fit.

Ian MacRae

Ian MacRae

Occupation/Background: Spitfire Sign Shop Ltd.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Signage and Bridgewater community organizer

Why I am involved: “I know I am headed in the same direction as everyone else – ‘the deep six’ but I am trying to do it with a little style.

A regime of running and biking lets me think I can enjoy my few vices – food and wine.”

Brett Barro

Occupation/Background:Medical Student, Dalhousie University. Brett is from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia and graduated with a BSc. in Human Kinetics from St. Francis Xavier University before pursuing medicine.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Logistics/Media support

Why I am involved: I have a strong interest in population health in particular the important influence of lifestyle. The Heartland Tour is a great opportunity to be apart of something special and beneficial to the communities of Nova Scotia. Cycling is a great vehicle to healthy living and having some fun.

James Gould
James Gould

Occupation/Background:Second Year Medical Student

My Role (aka “core chore”): Core Rider and Logistics Support

Why I am involved: Why I ride in the Heartland Tour: I have been cycling for 4 years, and this will be my first official tour. I am excited for the opportunity to get out on the road and get some exercise while enjoying the scenery of Nova Scotia. I am a big advocate for physical fitness and healthy living think that these sorts of initiatives are great. With chronic illness rates so high the importance of educating our population on healthy lifestyles is crucial for not only the future health of our population but for the on going sustainability of our healthcare system.

Ross Landry
Ross Landry

Occupation/Background:MLA Pictou Centre, Minister of Justice and Attorney General for the province of Nova Scotia. He was born and raised in Trenton, NS. His 34 year career in the RCMP and his university studies took him across Canada. Minister Landry earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology & Native Studies from the University of Manitoba, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina, and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Ottawa. He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2009 and is married with three adult children and one granddaughter. Minister Landry is also an avid cyclist and kayaker, and can often be found volunteering at the New Glasgow YMCA and Cyclone Cycling in Halifax teaching spin classes.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Facilitating the police support of the tour to ensure safety for cyclists and promoting sponsorship and community involvement.

Why I am involved: I have a lifelong passion for fitness. I see the Heartland Tour as a great platform to promote safe cycling infrastructures and practices, as well as promoting Nova Scotia as a world class cycling destination. My current role in the government affords me the opportunity to influence government policies in regards to health, transportation and tourism issues.

Luke Richardson

Occupation/Background:2nd year Medical Student, Luke is from Wolfville, NS and completed a BSc from Acadia University and a Masters in Public Health from Memorial University before attending Dalhousie Medicine.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Logistics/Media support

Why I am involved: I was really impressed with the forward thinking strategies of the Heartland Tour and I was motivated to join/help however I could. Population health strategies are the way of the future and hopefully Nova Scotia can continue to strive for programs such as this.

Bob Coyle
Bob Coyle

Occupation/Background: Works in the health care field and have been an active runner and cyclist for many years.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Core Rider.

Why I am involved: While training for a half marathon, Coyle began experiencing chest pain which required treatment. He was given some good advice at that time, “exercise is your early warning system for possible vascular events, so keep doing it! Regular exercise can be a lifesaver.”

Carmelitta MacIntyre
Carmelitta MacIntyre

Occupation/Background: School Principal

My Role (aka “core chore”): Halifax organizing team and youth-school involvement liaison.

Why I am involved: I feel that the Heartland Tour is a powerful agent that can greatly affect the health of our population. I am passionate about education and healthy lifestyles, and believe both of these can make a huge difference in our communities. It is an honor and great pleasure for me to be involved with such an important undertaking.

Michael Kennedy

Occupation/Background: Chartered Accountant

My Role (aka “core chore”): Board Member and Core rider.

Why I am involved: I would like to see the Province of NS, in particular HRM, continue to embrace cycling as an integral part of its transportation system and would encourage political leadership of the Province to step up and lead the way in leading healthy lives. As H.G. Wells once said: “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”

Shannon Read

Occupation/Background: Active Living Coordinator for the Town of Wolfville.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Community Leader for the Valley.

Why I am involved: I ride every chance I get. I have been riding my bike for most of my life and have been doing triathlons since 1983. The Heartland Tour was the first organized 100km ride I participated in and it was so fun! You might say it gave new meaning to riding a bike,…. and then just after becoming a HLT Community Leader I was hired to be an Active Living Coordinator for Wolfville. I couldn’t imagine a better vehicle for creating positive change and getting our community more physically active and paying attention to their overall health and wellness…and having fun doing it!

Aniket Hooda
Aniket Hooda

Occupation/Background: Second year medical student. “I was born in India, grew up in Australia and then immigrated to Canada. I completed my under-graduate degree at Dalhousie in Microbiology & Immunology and started medical school shortly after. I first started road biking about three years ago and have been hooked since! Last summer I was in Rotterdam for the prologue of the Tour de France.”

My Role (aka “core chore”): Core rider, medical school liaison, and research study team lead.

Why I am involved: “I’m really excited to see the rest of this beautiful province. And what better way to do it than biking while promoting awareness about cardiovascular disease!”

Leslie Ribeiro
Leslie Ribeiro

Occupation/Background: Second year medical student.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Core Rider and logistics support.

Why I am involved: Having been recently introduced to road cycling, I am excited for the opportunity to learn more about the sport while also exploring all the beauty this province has to provide. At the same time, I hope that this ride provides awareness regarding the benefit of healthy active lifestyles. My hope is that we can make healthy active lifestyles the easy choice, building our communities so that everyone can incorporate physical activity into their life every day in a way that they find enjoyable and rewarding.

Andre Maddison
Andre Maddison

Occupation/Background: Second year medical student. Originally from Sarnia, ON, I have lived in Nova Scotia for four years. I was introduced to cycling at a young age by my father, an avid cyclist and Tour de France fanatic. My cycling highlight has to be climbing Alpe d’Huez with my dad and 2 brothers.

My Role (aka “core chore”): Core Rider and logistics support.

Why I am involved: I cannot think of a better way to spend a week this summer! The combination of cycling, health promotion, and community involvement is right up my alley. The HLT is an amazing initiative, which I am proud to be part of.

Marie-Claude Gregoire
Marie-Claude Gregoire

Occupation/Background: Pediatrician. She has been cycling for 12 years and has completed multiple cycling trips up to 3 weeks long. Since moving to Halifax, she also enjoys running and swimming and has completed a few marathons and Olympic-distance triathlons. It has been a fantastic way of visiting Nova Scotia and making new friends!

My Role (aka “core chore”): Former Treasurer of the Cardiac Cycle Society of Nova Scotia and tour organizer.

Why I am involved: Dr. Marie-Claude Grégoire, wants to get your kids off the couch. But the paediatrician knows that physical activity has to be fun in order for kids and adolescents to want to do them. They have to make you feel good about yourself, to be something that you like and chose yourself. She believes health care prevention begins with children and has often found the activities she suggests for kids turn into an intervention for the whole family.

Doug Hayami
Doug Hayami

Occupation/Background: Internal Medicine Resident. Being active has always been part of his life. Starting with Saturday morning judo classes when his parents noticed he could walk, hockey throughout elementary and high school, varsity cross country running and track and field, to racing for Canada at Duathlon World’s. Despite increasing demands from school, and a busy internal medicine residency there’s always time for that Sunday run or post-call ride around the Sambro loop.

Why I am involved: “Being active is like brushing your teeth or that coffee first thing in the morning. It clears the mind and burns through stress. It’s a habit and part of my life. An active lifestyle is starting point to help prevent much of what I see in the hospital especially with respect to cardiovascular disease. Being part of the Heartland Tour is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness throughout Nova Scotia and help others become more active.”

Jill TrinactyJill Trinacty
Occupation/Background: Third year medical student

Why I am involved: “I enjoy a variety of physical activity including running, aerobics, yoga, skiing and biking! I believe physical activity is an important part of everyone’s daily life and I am excited to be promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles as part of the Heartland Tour.”

Rachael ShawRachel Shaw
Occupation/Background: Third year medical student
Why I am involved: “I’m a strong believer that if you want to promote a healthy life style to your patients you have to live it yourself. Although I’m relatively new to road biking (2 years this summer) I absolutely love it and can’t wait to do my first week long bike trip on the tour.”

Michael GniewekMichael Gniewek
Occupation/Background: Third year medical student Why I am involved: “I am new to the cycling world, but am extremely excited to get started and participate in the Heartland Tour this year! I hope to motivate and pass on the message throughout Nova Scotia that you do not need to be an expert cyclist to get outside, be active and improve your cardiovascular health!”

Chris MilburnChris d’Entremont
Occupation/Background: Nova Scotia’s Minister of Community Services and Minister of Acadian Affaires. He is also the Minister responsible for the Disable Persons Commission and the Youth Secretariat. Chris d’Entremont was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in August, 2003, and re-elected in June 2006

Andrew Dacanay
Andrew Dacanay

Occupation/Background: Assistant professor at the Agricultural College in Truro

Why I am involved: Andrew is an avid cyclist and claims to “have done everything you can imagine” on a bicycle, including tandem racing and a highly dangerous summer as a bike courier in London. Following doctors orders he didn’t race last year but has come back with a new-found zest not necessarily for racing, but just for running and riding for the sheer enjoyment of it and regularly encourages fellow racers to take the bike computer off and just go for a pleasant ride in the sun, smell the roses and have a chat with their friends.

Andrew DacanayCarmen O’Neil

Occupation/Background: Family Physician. Lives in Bridgewater with my husband and two daughters. We all enjoy biking and other outdoor activities.

Why I am involved: I see the effects of heart disease and sedentary lifestyle daily in my practice, and am excited to participate!

Andrew DacanayDavid Carver
Occupation/Background: General surgery resident. Originally from Charlottetown, PEI, he gained a love for the outdoors and active living while attending Acadia University in Wolfville, NS.
Why I am involved: Dave has participated in a number of half-marathons recently but was excited to get back on his bike and put in some real distance with the Heartland Tour.

Terry HaliburtonTerry Haliburton
Occupation/Background: Pharmacist. He is married with two teenage children, Luke 16 and Chelsea 15. He is an avid mountain and road cyclist. He has and continues to serve on a variety of community groups and have managed and coached Minor Hockey for 10 years.

Lawrence TitleLawrence Title

Occupation/Background: Cardiologist. Lawrence Title is passionate about cycling and he wants to ride his bike more. Unfortunately, he spends too much time at the QE2 Hospital opening blocked coronary arteries with balloon angioplasty and stents. The sad thing is that the majority of heart attacks and heart disease are attributable to high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, poor diet (low in fruits and vegetables), psychosocial stress, low alcohol consumption, and lack of regular physical activity. It is really sad because these are potentially preventable and treatable factors. More importantly, these factors seem to be especially prevalent in Nova Scotians. It is especially upsetting to see the how obese and inactive many of our children have become, which will likely contribute to their future health problems.

Why I am involved: If Nova Scotia could make major lifestyle changes starting in childhood, perhaps Lawrence’s daytime job could eventually become obsolete, giving him more time for riding his bike and drinking coffee. That in essence is what the HeartLand Tour is all about and that is why he has been involved in this important project since 2007. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to ride!

Shane Hawkins
Shane Hawkins

Occupation/Background: Family Medicine Resident. Born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, Shane did a business degree before finding his way to medicine.

Why I am involved: Shane plans to be a family doctor and strongly believes the most effective way to improve cardiovascular health in our communities is to promote healthy and active lifestyles.

Arpun Bajwa
Arpuyn Bajwa

Occupation/Background: Medical student.

Why I am involved: “About two years ago, I bought my first road bike and have been hooked ever since. Probably one of the best sports out there! (well maybe second to running.hehe). Biking is such a great sport to stay fit, active and happy. There’s nothing else like it!

Bill Booth
Bill Booth

Occupation/Background: Family physician

Why I am involved: The Heartland Tour is something Booth really wanted to be a part of. He is an avid cyclist (mixing it up between mountain and road biking) and there is a history of heart disease in his family. As the only physician from North-Eastern Nova Scotia, Booth hopes he will raise awareness in his community. “My patients will see what I’ve done,” he says. “Hopefully I will set an example and motivate people to continue to exercise.”

Richard Sparkman
Rick Sparkman

Occupation/Background: Business professor – Acadia University. Rick Sparkman tends to look at “the cost of things.” Not only do 700 people a year die in this province prematurely because of inactivity, treating preventable illnesses like diabetes and stroke costs tax payers $400 a person a year. It’s draining money from the healthcare system and from our own pockets. Sparkman, 62, says, “the most cost effective medical facility is a walking trail. It’s cheap and it will keep people out of the hospitals.” But he’s not all about the money. Sparkman gives lectures on the benefits of active transportation and also writes for the Sierra Club.

Why I am involved: He used to be an avid cyclist in the 70s and was going to the gym and swimming until last fall when he caught the Norwalk virus. While he was recuperating in the winter, Sparkman tried to get back to his old activities. He was discouraged when he realized he couldn’t. That’s when he saw an article about the Heartland Tour in the Chronicle Herald. Sparkman gave himself three months to get back in shape and ready for the 20km/hr pace!

Jean-Francois Legare
Jean-François Légaré

Occupation/Background: Cardiac Surgeon

Why I am involved: Very few people would be happy if they were out of a job. Dr. Jean-François Légaré isn’t one of them. The cardiac surgeon sees people at the critical stage of heart disease every day. “Many people believe that surgery is a cure,” Légaré says. “But I am usually just prolonging the end. When you see it every day it starts to eat you up a little.” That’s why Légaré, 38, joined the Heartland Tour. He believes people need to overhaul their lifestyle in order to truly reverse the damage of heart disease. Popping into the hospital for a quick fix every six months is not the answer and Légaré hopes that over time events like the Heartland Tour will get more people to take their health seriously. While Légaré knows he won’t see the end of preventable cardiovascular disease in his lifetime, he hopes there will be a day when people think of it as blight on the historical landscape.

Sarah LeaSarah Lea
Why I am involved: “I have always enjoyed spending time outdoors and grew up sailing all summer and skiing all winter. About three years ago, I purchased my first road bike, got into triathlons and have loved every minute of it!”

Tom Baxter
Tom Baxter

Occupation/Background: Before medical school he completed his undergraduate work at King’s College doing a combined honors degree in Classics and Biology. Upon graduating, he traveled and taught English in Japan for two years, before returning to Halifax to work at Nubody’s as a personal trainer. In 2006, he cycled 3000 kilometers in Southern Africa with tour d’Afrique and raised money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and awareness for type I diabetes. Cycling is a passion for him and last summer he undertook another cycling adventure, traveling down the Western Coast from Portland Oregon to La Paz Mexico with two fellow classmates Ryan and Dave (also on the heartland tour)!

Why I am involved: He is excited to see Nova Scotia by bicycle and to help make a difference in promoting awareness of cardiovascular disease and living a healthy lifestyle.

Ryan Fisher
Ryan Fisher

Occupation/Background: I grew up in Shinimicas, Nova Scotia, a small farming community outside Amherst, NS. After completing an undergraduate degree in Physiology at McGill University, I spent time in Korea teaching English and traveled within Asia and Europe. I’ve been cycling for two to three years; the highlight was cycling down the West Coast from Portland-San Francisco and along the Baja of Mexico.

David Russell
Howard Wightman

Occupation/Background: Cardiologist. Dr. Howard Wightman, 52, has been cycling for ten years, but his physical pursuits go way back. He ended up at Dalhousie University and he’s been working at the Valley Regional Hospital for 15 years. Wightman began a cardiac rehabilitation program shortly after he arrived at Valley Regional called Extended Warranty II. It is one of the first rehab programs in the province that has been able to sustain itself. Extended Warranty II combines low-level exercise with a nutritional and cooking program. Patients learn how to select and prepare healthy, low-fat food that tastes really great. Support for Wightman’s program has been phenomenal throughout the Valley area. Most of the funding comes from the community in an annual fundraiser called “Hearts on Ice” – a skating party held at Acadia University every Valentines Day.

Michael O'Rielly
Michael O’Reilly

Occupation/Background: Cardiologist. The average life expectancy for a physician in Canada is 67, and cardiologist Dr. Michael O’Reilly has a pretty good idea why. Twelve years ago he was overweight, logging 10 and 12-hour days at Valley Regional Hospital, and subsisting on a constant flow of coffee. Growing up, O’Reilly, 52, played pretty much any and every sport he could. If there was a tiddlywinks team, he would have been on it. But as the demands of his job increased, he had zero time for sports, let alone time to be with his family. Until three years ago. A group of doctors organized a bike tour of Italy and it was the bike, O’Reilly says, that saved him. He wanted to go, but knew he’d have to get into shape first. He started to leave the hospital at 5 p.m. (an hour and a half earlier than usual) three times a week and biked a 38 k.m. route around Kentville. Since he returned from Italy he’s made his health a priority. Through exercise, a better diet and regulating his hours at work, O’Reilly lost 60 pounds.

Why I am involved: He says events like the Heartland Tour are important because it shows patients that they’re not alone, their doctors take their health seriously too.

Colin VanZoost
Colin VanZoost

Occupation/Background: Internal Medicine Resident. Originally from Falmouth, Nova Scotia, VanZoost wants to promote the philosophy of healthy living at a grassroots level. He received his undergraduate degree in kinesiology from STFX. There he learned the importance of holistic health – incorporating exercise, diet, and lifestyle into health care.

Why I am involved: VanZoost hopes that the tour will inspire at least one person in each community to be more active. “I want to at least plant a seed in their mind,” says VanZoost. “Personally, I’m inspired by the other doctors on the tour and how committed they are. Some of them are 30 years older than me and just as active. I want to be able to do what they’re doing when I’m their age.”

Greg Campbell
Greg Campbell

Occupation/Background: Campbell was born in Victoria, BC, and moved to Halifax to do physiotherapy. He did that for five years before entering Dalhousie’s medical school. As a father of two daughters (ages 2 and 4), he knows that preventing heart disease starts right out of the cradle.

Why I am involved: When Nick Giacomantonio was organizing the Heartland Tour, they asked Greg Campbell, a 3rd year med student, to join in. Campbell, 33, was an obvious choice. He has been seriously road biking for 13 years and used to compete in races around the province.

Andrew GiornoAndrew Giorno
Why I am involved: Andrew Giorno, 26, took a cardiology elective with Dr. Nick Giacomantonio. Nick shared his passion for the heart muscle, and its ally – the bicycle. Soon Giorno was planning the route for the Heartland Tour. He ended up mapping most of it. “The idea was to hit all the major towns,” says Giorno. “Giving the tour the most visibility and the riders the most safety.”

Alison James
Alison James

Occupation/Background: Cardio Research Manager – QEII She rides her bike 7 km to the QEII everyday for work and James and her husband cycle together every weekend with a group of friends. Alison wasn’t always so active. It wasn’t until the first year of her undergrad at Queen’s that Alison became interested in sports. She had a friend who was a triathlete and Alison was inspired to try out for the varsity running team – of course, she made it. She laughs at how little she knew about sports back then. “I thought ‘carb-loading’ meant you had to eat pasta all day before a race – even for breakfast,” she says.?Today Alison instinctively knows the limits of her body, when to eat and drink, and how pace herself. She says the distance they’re travelling in the Heartland Tour is extreme for most people, but the message behind the 1000 km ride is simply to get active. “It’s about climbing the stairs instead of using the elevator,” she says. “It’s about taking the bike to work. Anyone can hop on a bike, it’s the easiest thing to do.”

John Haverstock
John Haverstock

Why I am involved: Haverstock hopes the tour has a domino effect across the province. While their message may only reach a handful of people this time around, those people will tell their friends and family and the chain will just keep growing. While he isn’t quite sure what he wants to specialize in, Haverstock knows he wants to focus on prevention. It’s something he feels the medical community needs to focus on too.

Doug Laffin
Doug Laffin

Occupation/Background: One day Doug Laffin’s wife was looking through the paper and saw a picture of a man who used to live in their neighbourhood. It was Dr. Nick Giacomantonio promoting the upcoming Heartland Tour. His wife suggested he participate, but Laffin was skeptical as to whether or not he could keep up. Especially after he went on a ride with Nick and Howard Wightman. The other riders had to wait for him as he struggled up the hills. Part of the reason was that Laffin was packing 20 lbs of supplies on his bike. When he unloaded the gear and discovered he could go faster, Laffin decided that no one would wait for him on a hill again. He trained for six weeks before the tour. In addition cycling, Laffin ran Citadel hill on his lunch hour at CIBC where he works as a credit specialist.

Why I am involved: While Laffin, who will only say that he’s in the 50+ age bracket, is getting in incredible shape because of the Heartland Tour, his primary reason for biking across the province is in memory of his father who passed away of a stroke in 2004 at age 85. Laffin’s father had a double bypass twenty years before. Afterwards he started working out five times a week and going ice-skating – he was so active that Laffin couldn’t keep up. He knew this is something his father would have enjoyed and, for the record, no one on the Heartland Tour has waited for Laffin on a hill.

Pat MacDonnell

Occupation/Background: Disability Resource Facilitator at the NSCC campus in Stellarton. He also sits on the community health board. They look at what the people want from their health care providers and then develop programs for the health authority. MacDonnell tries to exercise as much as possible; he goes out at least five times a week for activities like swimming, spinning, and canoeing.

Why I am involved: MacDonnell says he loves being a part of something that is making a positive change. That’s why he’s involved with healthcare in his community and the Heartland Tour.