“CYCLETHON 3 IS COMING,” reads Connor Colquhoun’s March 17 post on X. Attached to it is a 37-second clip, shot and edited in his trademark YouTuber style, highlighting all of the activities and guests planned for the trip. With over 905,000 views at the time of writing, it was both a reminder and a battle cry to his community to get their computer screens and wallets ready to support his most ambitious cycle yet.

Known as CDawgVA online, Colquhoun moved to Japan in 2019 after being signed to talent agency GeeXPlus (owned by Kadokawa Corporation). The core of his content sees him showcasing Japan through his own unique lens to an audience of over 3.15 million subscribers on YouTube. Some of his most popular series include crane game challenges with other internet talent and trying on budget cosplays. In other videos, he explores fringe cultures through first-hand experiences, such as in “I Tried Working In A Japanese Strip Club Ft. Shibuya Kaho” and “I Tried Lolita Fashion in Japan” with model RinRin Doll. But in the last three years, Colquhoun’s charity streams on Twitch have become an occasion that many fans look forward to.

CDawgVA charity

CDawgVA Cyclethon History

This past April was Colquhoun’s third time fundraising for the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF) via cycling and streaming the entire journey. In 2022, he embarked on this challenge for the first time alongside Chris Broad of Abroad In Japan. The two cycled for eight days, journeying 750 kilometers across Hokkaido, and raised over $310,000 through Twitch donations. This live-streamed event ended up being nominated for — and winning — the category of Best Philanthropic Stream Event at the 2023 Streamer Awards. 

The next year, the two followed up with a ride across Kyushu: nine days, 900 kilometers and over $555,000 raised. Not one to back down from a new challenge, this year’s trip topped all records with a full fourteen days of cycling, just under 1,200 kilometers ridden and over $1 million raised.

“Honestly, there are so many reasons, it’s hard to credit it to just one,” says Colquhoun when asked about what inspires him to keep the cyclethons going. A major motivator is being able to use his platform to raise money for a cause close to his heart. And then there’s the chance to combine a “rare activity for Twitch streaming (being healthy)” with getting to see more of Japan and spending time with his best friends. For Colquhoun, this translates to an incredible experience, making the cyclethon “the event I get so excited for every year.”

The Immune Deficiency Foundation, Colquhoun’s chosen charity, is a nonprofit organization that offers resources, education and support to those with primary immunodeficiencies. His efforts for the foundation are in part due to his close relationship with popular online VTuber Ironmouse, who suffers from immune disorders and frequently credits the foundation for being a key support to her.

Cyclethon 3

From April 1 to 14, fans from all over the world were able to tune in to catch Colquhoun and Broad cycle from Yamaguchi to Tokyo. While the bulk of the cycling took place in Japan’s lush countryside, this year marked the first time that the crew was able to take their audience through some notable cities, including Nagoya and Kyoto. Antics were also guaranteed thanks to an impressive lineup of guest appearances, such as Garnt Maneetapho (Gigguk), Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie), Peter Macy (PremierTwo) and Natsuki Aso. A shoutout must also be given to Ironmouse, who was a core member of the event, if only virtually.

The CDawgVA Twitch channel has 1.3 million followers. Throughout the cyclethon, it averaged about 17,000 live viewers at any one time, while VOD (video on demand) content had about 380,000 views each day. Videos ranged in length from seven hours to 13 hours, with footage mostly depicting the long road ahead from Colquhoun’s point of view.

Watching a stream passively was an option, but there were also ways for viewers to feel like they were part of the show. For example, donations made toward the charity triggered text-to-speech, a popular Twitch function that allows the viewer’s comment to be read out live. The bottom right corner of the stream included a map and the time, temperature and average speed, so folks jumping in midway through could easily catch up. Lastly, a fitness tracker connected to the stream helped to gamify the experience by showcasing Colquhoun’s heart rate and calories burnt.

Rain or shine, the duo pedaled forward with gusto, ensuring that they hit their distance goal for each day. Day 3 had a particularly tough start, with extremely heavy rainfall accompanied by thunder and lightning. However, it was far from Colquhoun’s first rodeo in wet weather conditions. 

“[F]alling over multiple times is always a hard thing to forget, and the torrential rain is hard to forget,” shares Colquhoun with a laugh while reflecting on previous cyclethons.

Looking back on this year’s journey, many of the meaningful moments were Colquhoun’s interactions with the local community. While heading to Osaka, an older woman stopped them to ask where they were cycling. After giving them words of encouragement, she even began running after them to cheer them on. In another instance, they met a cyclist named Toru who helped them with directions and rode with them, chatting and lifting their spirits.

“Those types of genuine moments that can’t be orchestrated are one of the reasons I really love the cycle,” remarks Colquhoun. “It’s always a pleasure getting to meet locals who share the enthusiasm about something they were just informed about.”

He continues, “In Nagoya, we had an amazing ramen at a local store where the owner was kind enough to chat to us about his store and showed enthusiasm as we told him about our journey.”

abroad in japan

Victory at Tokyo Tower

On April 14 at 5:24pm, Colquhoun and Broad crossed the finish line at Tokyo Tower. A crowd of 300 fans and friends gathered to commemorate 14 days of blood, sweat and tears. At the time of writing, the official amount raised is $1,062,576, but that number will continue to rise, as the community is still donating. 

Over the last few years, the Japanese public has had mixed opinions on streamers and content creators due to the negative actions of several bad actors. However, Colquhoun’s efforts year after year have proven that with proper planning and positive intentions, content creation can truly be a force for good. Through his dedication to charity and his fostering of community, Colquhoun has been able to cultivate a movement capable of raising both money and awareness for an underrepresented illness.

Should all streamers and creators use their platforms for charity? Colquhoun thinks it’s a personal decision that should be left up to each creator. In his case, he feels his charity work has actually enabled him to have an even closer relationship with his audience.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with how much money we managed to raise,” says Colquhoun. 

“People from all corners of the globe chipped in to raise a monumental amount to change lives. 

“I am eternally thankful to have such a supportive audience and team, and I’m so ready to let my legs rest for a while.”

Related Posts