A duo of cyclists will kick off a tough cross-country journey in Vancouver on Sunday with the goal of raising the profile of a devastating illness.

Zachary Nevin, a student from the University of British Columbia, came up with the idea to cycle 6500 kilometres from the Pacific to Atlantic oceans over a period of 28 days.

His uncle Peter Borwein, who is in the final stages of multiple sclerosis, inspired him to organize the trip.  

"I just noticed last night actually he has to wear a breathing mask, and that's new,” Nevin said.

The teenager wants to shine the spotlight on the degenerative and fatal disease affecting his loved one.

"Thirty years ago HIV was a death sentence and now it's a chronic, manageable illness, and I think the same thing can happen for MS,” he added.

Nevin drafted Chris Schrader, a well-connected friend from the Youth Endurance Network, to help plan the trek. The philanthropic organization aims to unite young people through sport. 

“In the last three months we've been training six to eight hours a day, so you can imagine trying to fit in the training and also organize,” Schrader said.

Adrian Odio was supposed to be the third amigo on the journey, but he suffered a knee injury Thursday on an ill-fated training run.

"I had an accident up in Whistler. I was going actually for my last ride and everything changed. My chain came off; I fell on gravel,” he said.

But Odio isn’t giving up. He’s waiting for the green light from doctors to dive into the 300-kilometre daily ride

"I didn't come here to just to sit and support my team, which of course I’m going to give them all my support, but I’m here also to cycle," he said.

It won’t be easy. The 19-year-olds will be tackling more than their world-class counterparts do in the Tour de France.

"The Tour de France is an amazing event and we're doing twice the distance almost in a week extra from what they'll do,” Schrader said.

It’s a Herculean task, but one Nevin has his heart set on.  

"This actually is going to be the toughest journey of my life. But let's face it, I love my uncle. It's something I'm willing to do, to face, to possibly change the course of this disease,” he said.

The team hopes to raise $100,000 by the end of July through the bike tour called Cycling to End Multiple Sclerosis.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Penny Daflos