Ride for the Kids cyclists ready to roll from Langley

Different name, different route, same very worthy cause.

What was Ride For Hope is now Ride for the Kids, a July 2 cycling journey that will see participants pedal from Langley to Chilliwack and back in their efforts to generate money for the Canucks for Kids Fund in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Over the past eight years, the fundraiser had cyclists ride from South Surrey to Hope for the cause.

This year, the cycling trek begins and ends at Canlan Ice Sports Langley Twin Rinks on the Langley Bypass.

Jeff Bandura, the Adult Safe Hockey League manager at Langley Twin Rinks and a cyclist with Team Bayview Towing, has been part of the ride since its inception.

Scaling down the fundraiser and changing its name was necessary this year, Bandura said. “Due to sponsorship changes… this is the core group that’s done the ride for the past nine years, so rather than create any further conflict, we changed the name, and Ride for the Kids fits.”

On Thursday, July 2, the cyclists will depart from Twin Rinks at 8 a.m. and travel round trip to Chilliwack, with a stop at the newly built Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Abbotsford on their way back.

The initial ride, in July 2007, raised $10,960 for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and the totals have risen ever since.

The 2014 cycling ride raised just under $70,000, bringing the grand, overall total to roughly $645,000, all which goes to support B.C.’s newborns, children, and teens with life-threatening illnesses and their families, who require programs operated by Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

With a location in the heart of Vancouver and a Fraser Valley extension in Abbotsford now open, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice provides specialized paediatric palliative care for children living with a life-threatening illness and support for their families throughout the province.

The hospice includes an inter-disciplinary team – consisting of a diverse group of healthcare professionals, support staff and volunteers, who provide 24-hour/seven days a week care and support.

To donate to Ride for the Kids online, click here.

Bandura stressed that the 165 km cycling journey is for a great cause.

“We’ve allocated our funds that we raise this year to go to the hospice in Abbotsford,  because that’s where it’s definitely needed,” Bandura said.

There is no specific goal this year, in terms of how much money is raised.

“Once you start to set numbers, then things start to spiral out of control,” Bandura explained. “The whole ride was designed to create awareness and raise as much as we possibly can for the children and families that really need it at the hospice. So if we raise $1,000, great, if we raise $100,000, that’s also great.”

Marco Diotte and Rob Neufeld and those close to them have been touched by the work that the staff at Canuck Place does, and both are riding July 2.

The five-year-old granddaughter of Diotte’s wife’s best friend passed away three years ago, and her family was helped greatly by Canuck Place in Vancouver.

“Children’s Hospice was fantastic,” Diotte said. “It was hard; she was in there [at the hospice] twice. She went in the first time, and they didn’t think she was going to last but she was allowed to go home. She ended up getting another infection and she passed away at the hospice.”

Through it all, Diotte said, the staff at the hospice did “everything they could do for [the family] in those last moments.”

Neufeld’s grandson Noah was just 28 days old when he died from a heart condition.  

“It’s always a positive feeling when we reflect about Canuck Place,” Neufeld said. “As much as they are there for those who are terminally ill and dying, they are there more for the people who are living.”

People’s mindset about how they deal with the subject of little ones getting sick with diseases and dying has changed over years, in Neufeld’s opinion. “Fifty years ago, it was quiet and nobody talked about it and people kept it to themselves. But Canuck Place are telling people to celebrate life, to embrace life, whether it’s 28 days or 28 years, or five years.”

Added Diotte, “We’ve all been touched with cancer but for us it’s special with kids, because they’re the next generation and they’re what inspires us to ride, to do something for the cause.”

When they arrive in Langley, the cyclists will take part in a windup in the Twin Rinks parking lot. They’re scheduled to arrive in Langley at roughly 5:15 p.m.

The windup from 4 to 6 p.m. will include a barbecue, beer garden, music from Just Off The Grid, and guest appearances from retired NHL goaltender Bill Ranford and Vancouver Canucks’ mascot Fin as well as members of the Canucks alumni.

The public is urged to attend and donations can be made onsite and through the purchase of buttons with all proceeds going to the charity.

Cycling schedule packed

Team Bayview Towing cyclists are spearheading the fundraiser and they have a busy July ahead.

On Sunday, June 21, they participated in Ride Don’t Hide, which started from Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association. The goal of the ride was to raise awareness and help break the stigma of mental health while at the same time raising funds for mental health programs.

Then, just three days after Ride for the Kids where 100 per cent of all donations go to the Canucks for Kids Fund, the Bayview Towing cyclists are taking part in the July 5 MEC Langley Century Ride.

The busy stretch winds up with the Peninsula Runners 5K and Half Marathon in Fort Langley on July 12.

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