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A trip to remember

By Sharon Gray

It’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime for Dr. John Weber and Sarah Hillock when they bicycle from Rome to Amsterdam, a distance of 2,700 kilometres. And it’s all for a good cause. Dr. Weber is raising money for graduate student scholarships for the School of Pharmacy and Ms. Hillock, a local artist, is raising money for Eastern Edge Gallery.

The trip starts May 9 in Rome and will end about June 20 for Dr. Weber in Amsterdam, nearby where he did postdoctoral work at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam. He will stay to meet with colleagues in The Netherlands while Ms. Hillock goes on to Glasgow, Scotland.

The trip is particularly important for Dr. Weber, who has been a faculty member in the School of Pharmacy since 2006, because it has been 10 years since he completed graduate school and he will have a “significant” birthday on May 22. He wanted it to be memorable birthday and when Sarah came up with the idea of the bicycle trip he realized it could also be an opportunity to do some fundraising.

“I accepted the job at Memorial largely to help build research and graduate studies in the School of Pharmacy,” he said. “We only have one graduate scholarship in the School of Pharmacy so it is really important to raise money for more scholarships. I’d also like to be able to fund undergraduate students with an interest in research.”

Dr. Weber’s goal is to raise $1 for each kilometre he cycles and use this $2,700 to leverage matching funds.

The couple expects to cycle about 130 km every other day, camping along the way or staying in hostels to keep expenses down. They will not only be transporting themselves, but pulling a trailer with camping gear and art supplies, including paint, canvas and an antique easel. They’ve been preparing themselves since January by doing spin classes and bicycling at every opportunity.

The couple is starting the trip near Italy's mountainous Abruzzo region, where more than 150 people were killed recently in a recent earthquake. “Because we are starting very near where the earthquake in Italy happened, this trip is also in honour of those victims,” said Dr. Weber.

Dr. Weber has created a blog site and you can follow his trip at

To donate to this fundraising trip, please contact Darcy McMeekin, development officer, School of Pharmacy, at or 777-8977. To donate online go to