From Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean to all of Quebec
In 1999, Pierre Lavoie launched the first Défi Pierre Lavoie in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean in order to raise awareness in his region about lactic acidosis, the illness which took two of his children from him, and raise funds for research. He cycled alone over 650 km in 24 hours on an itinerary around the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.
Thanks to his incredible endurance and his communication skills, Pierre turned his Défi into a major event in his region. Hundreds of adults and children waited for him along his route to give him the money they had collected. The event was such a success that Pierre repeated the experience in 2000, 2002 and 2005.
Fais ton kilomètre avec Pierre was a resounding success:
In 2005, as he was giving conferences in schools, Pierre noticed the keen interest students took in his Défi. This gave him the idea to join together with schools in order to create the activity Fais ton kilomètre avec Pierre. This activity, which was launched within the framework of the fourth edition of the Défi Pierre Lavoie, enabled young people to join Pierre as he passed through their municipality, in the middle of the day or night, to ride for a magical and unforgettable kilometre. To get ready for this activity, young people had to enter their school and commit to doing three 15-minute sessions of physical activity per week for a month.
Forty schools entered, 6,300 young people participated and over 235,000 15-minute periods of physical activity were recorded. This all occurred without any advertisements promoting the event.
Taking the dream to new heights
Pierre then thought that more young people needed to be exposed to this activity. He started taking the dream to new heights with Germain Thibault, a Radio-Canada director that Pierre met in the context of a news report on the 1999 Ironman in Hawaii. Both of them shared the same concerns for the health of young people. Together, they came up with the idea of extending the Défi Pierre Lavoie to the entire province in order to encourage elementary school pupils to adopt healthy life habits. The project was launched in November 2008 and was renamed the Grand défi Pierre Lavoie.
The first edition in 2008-2009 was an instant success. As part of the Get Up and Move! contest in May, students and their families accumulated 16,970,866 energy cubes. In addition, the 1,000-km event was applauded throughout Quebec.
For its second edition in 2009-2010, the Grand défi Pierre Lavoie rallied even more schools and pupils, who accumulated 22 million energy cubes—5 million more than the previous year! And the number of teams registered for the 1,000-km event increased from 90 to 150!
The third edition rallied even more schools and families, who accumulated 37 million energy cubes. 185 teams participated in the 1,000 km event with more than 900 cyclists.
The adventure is continuing for a fourth year and is growing in popularity.