Man cycles to honor a legacy

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, July 18, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Martin Frank Wong, 35, lost his girlfriend of three years he wanted to find a way to honor the legacy she left behind.

Carina Valdepino Villeda had faced many challenges in life including Rheumatoid Arthritis, which lead to her needing hip replacement surgery.

“The first one took,” Wong said. “There were complications with the second one and she passed on May 4.”

Cycling led him to meet her and so it is cycling he is using as a way to raise awareness and funds in her honor. Villeda was with the Mexico branch of Doctors without Borders.

Wong left Mexico City on June 19 and has traveled approximately 1,100 miles on his journey. Averaging 75 miles a day, his record for miles cycled in a day, on this trip, is 104 miles.

“The heat has been a challenge,” Wong said as temperatures were in the 90s. “I have learned some techniques to beat the heat.”

He also saw his first alligator on Tuesday.

With a $10 a day budget, Wong sleeps on the side of the road. All to help others learn the story of Carina Valdepino Villeda.

“She really loved her work,” Wong said.

Villeda worked with refugees who were also the victims of violence.

With a half million refugees traveling through the area, 60-percent are victimized along the journey.

“About 90-percent of the women will be raped,” Wong said. “It is common for them to take birth control before leaving.”

His girlfriend helped refugees with counseling, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and to find less dangerous routes.

“I think the problem is multi national so a safety net is difficult,” Wong said.

It was during his travels as he cycled from Canada to the southern tip of South America that he met Villeda.

“Our first date was me convincing her to let me use her shower,” Wong laughed.

He had been on his bike for days and only had two changes of clothing.

He stayed for a couple of days to have coffee with her and then dinner before continuing on his journey.

“I was a week on the road when I went back to Mexico City to see her again,” Wong said.

He ended up staying for four months.

“I had a six month visa,” Wong said. “When I left, I had four hours left on it.”

Wong eventually moved to Mexico City to live with her.

Now he wants to continue her legacy by bringing awareness to what she did and Doctors without Borders.

To make a donation visit

One can also see updates on Wong’s travels as he continues his journey.