The name has changed since its inception in 1993 – and so has the cause.
But the community spirit and camaraderie remains the same.
What was the Gord Heppler Memorial Run is, and has been for the past three years, the Greater Vancouver Motorcycle Club (GVMC) Ride For The Kids.
This past Sunday’s ride, the 24th annual, benefits the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund and, specifically, kids with burn injuries.
About 125 riders left the GVMC’s clubhouse on 192nd Street in Port Kells for a 130-kilometre country ride that saw the convoy travel as far as Chilliwack.
GVMC webmaster and event promoter Jackie Heppler explained that for many years, the ride benefited charities including BC Children’s Hospital, all in the name of her late husband, Gord Heppler, who died of cancer on May 21, 1992, at the age of 44.
In 2012, after 20 consecutive years of putting on the run, Jackie stepped down as the main organizer with the club playing a bigger role. It renamed the event the 21st Annual GVMC Ride For The Kids.
Before the ride got underway, GVMC past president Ron Benderski predicted that the sizzling temperatures would likely make things a bit tougher on the riders, but noted that there is water at all the stops.
“We’re a safe riding club so it’s safety first,” Benderski said.
Benderski said the GVMC has a great reputation, adding that two years ago the ride switched charities and the support from local firefighters “have been phenomenal.”
“They help us make it a bigger event every year, and that’s what we’re after,” Benderski said.
In the 23 years leading up to Sunday’s event, the ride has raised a combined $180,537.76 for the two causes.
Last year’s ride raised $10,360.50 for the Burn Fund.