My name is Paul Hayes and I am the founder of We Haul 2 Play. In the summer of 2010, I decided to move to China to work at a Canadian high school located in the Province of Jiangsu. I came to China without having a clue about the language and their customs, but it didn't take long for me to fall in love with the culture and the people. I worked at a school called Sino-Canada for four years, and I was privileged to be given the freedom to share my passion for health and wellness with my students. I worked closely with some amazing people to promote an active lifestyle amongst our student body that would bring positive changes to their lives. We offered them many options; in hope they would find something they would enjoy. I found a purpose during my time in China, and I wanted to share this energy with as much people as I could.
I had a student by the name of Ho Young who had ambitions that were unbelievable for a 17 year old adolescent. He aspired to cycle across the world when he graduated, and I admired his ability to dream big. In the spring of 2012, I had an idea while out running and the vision was simple: provide youth in rural areas with the “opportunity to experience the gift of sport and privilege to play" by hauling the equipment via bicycle and trailer. I asked Ho Young if he would be interested in cycling across China with me, and without hesitation he joined the team!
July 1st, 2012, we started our trek across China. With support from our school, family and friends and sponsors, we didn’t need much to get the program going. But with all the equipment that could be carried in a van rather than on the back of a bike, why not drive around the country instead? Cycling opens the doors for spontaneous interactions and it allows the riders to meet people in their daily lives. In addition to this, one can cycle to remote, impoverished areas that might otherwise be extremely difficult. I believe the image is just as important as the idea: using our own strength to propel forward, battling the elements while hauling a trailer of sporting goods to the villagers, promotes an active lifestyle and engages us with the people in an authentic manner.
Despite our small caravans, running out of equipment was never an issue – every four days or so, a fresh donation of Decathlon goods would arrive at our next destination. We shipped the equipment to post offices located throughout our journey to ensure the trailer was always filled. Everyday we would wake up, jump on our bikes and pay visits to children in remote villages. We cycled through sandstorms, freezing rain, high mountain passes, summer heat and winds so strong it felt as though we didn't make any progress. As well, we battled through fatigue, injury and Ho Young had to deal with me for 44 days…. Regardless of the challenges we kept pushing forward...
Together we cycled over 5342 km across the third largest country in the world and it gave us so many memories that will last a lifetime. When we started in Shanghai Ho Young was my student, but by the time we hit Kashgar, he became a brother…I hold a special bond with Ho Young and I am proud to have been called his teacher.
After our inaugural ride, our organization has cycled a total of 10 000 km across China, Cambodia, Laos, Cuba and the Phillipines making visits to many underprivileged schools and villages. Cyril Indome, Jeans Hennessy, Ross Mackinnon and Issac Mckitrick have all taken part in these tours, and with your support we hope we can continue to provide children and youth with a kick start to enjoy sport.