By Amy Fendley
He’s an accomplished Whistler realtor, an athlete and an aspiring hero.
John Ryan of the Whistler Real Estate Co. made Business in Vancouver’s list of 40 Under 40, a poll of the Lower Mainland’s 40 most remarkable business achievers under the age of 40. The list appeared in the Dec. 29 issue of BIV.
Ryan, 37, has been one of the top selling realtors in Whistler for many years. He is a member of the Royal LePage Chairman’s Club, the top one per cent of 8,000 realtors across Canada, and is one of the top ten agents in Canada. As of September, he was leading the Whistler realtor race again, as well as leading a race of his own.
Ryan is in the final planning stages of his Regeneration Tour, a 5,400-kilometre, cross-Canada cycling tour to raise $5 million for spinal cord regeneration research.
While Ryan admits he’s had a great life, he says the reason behind his goals is simply to give something back.
"I really want to make a difference and if I can touch one person or change one life, then I will have been successful," said Ryan, who in November, 1994 became a paraplegic in a car accident.
"Life has been very good to me both personally and financially, despite being confined to a wheelchair, and now it’s time to give something back."
Riding a hand-pedalled bicycle, he will set out from St. John’s, Newfoundland on May 1. He plans to end the tour in Whistler on Labour Day weekend.
For the past year, Ryan has volunteered his time to speak to school children in B.C. as part of The Role Model Resource program, organized by the Rick Hansen Institute.
An educational aspect of his tour will be provided interactively through On the Road, a web site designed to follow the tour.
"We’re working with IBM to make the tour live and interactive across the country," said Ryan. "At any given time the tour will be accessible, especially to school kids following it in class. It will also make donations easier because you can donate right on the internet."
He says he will have headphones and will spend an hour a day talking to the public, especially students, and media.
Ryan has been busy trying to establish corporate sponsorship and financial and volunteer support for the administration and execution of his Regeneration Tour, working with key business and special interest organizations across Canada to conduct fund-raising events.
Watch for a film premier sometime in February, as Intrawest has sponsored a tour video which will be used for television spots, as well as for educational awareness. Sarah McLaughlin also contributed to the video, donating her song I Love You.
When asked if he had any pre-tour jitters, Ryan replied: "No. I have a good life, I like my life, as long as I can get it back to normal after the tour... the business side of things has been very overwhelming."
The community is helping to support Ryan’s endeavours as he moves closer to his starting date, and now he is in need of volunteers. An office has been donated in the Market Pavilion for use as a tour administration office. Interested volunteers can sign up at that location, or call 905-6911.