Annual Penny Run participants take plenty of smiles for a ride

Bruce Van Horn, a client of Community Living Manitoulin is ready to take a motorcycle ride

MINDEMOYA—Judging by the smiles and hugs exchanged between all those who take part in the annual Penny Run it is safe to say it is a very special event.

“This is the first time I have attended (the Penny Run) and I can’t describe how great it is,” stated an emotional Adrienne Farquhar, executive director of Community Living Manitoulin (CLM), at the annual Penny Run held at Timberlane Rustic Lodges on Saturday. The event brings together CLM clients and staff with the Brothers of the Blade and Brothers of the Wheel motorcycle clubs for a day of fun, laughter and good times for all. “It restores your faith in humanity to see this; two worlds coming together in an amazing way. And the CLM staff, I am so honoured to be part of this.”

Rod Sellers, a member of the Brothers of the Wheel Motorcycle Club, who lives in West Virginia told The Expositor, “this is my 18th year coming to this event. It’s obvious why I come back every year, everything is so wonderful; we have great weather, a great place and to see the CLM clients. It’s just a great event.”

Bruce Arrowsmith, the main organizer of the event told all those in attendance, “I want to welcome all of you to the 32nd annual Penny Run. You know one of our very special guests, CLM client Linda who has been at every Penny Run.”

“I thank all of you guys and gals from the two motorcycle clubs for coming back again this year,” said Mr. Arrowsmith. He pointed out most of the bikers and their spouses (about 60 in total this year) come from southern Ontario, but also travelled from Ohio and West Virginia for the event.

“I would also like to thank all the people who worked so hard to put all of this together,” said Mr. Arrowsmith. “This Penny Run originally started on Manitoulin Island and expanded to southern Ontario as well.”

“Every year we ask the CLM group for a list of where their needs are and where they are having difficulty in getting funding from the government and other sources,” said Mr. Arrowsmith. The motorcyclists then raise funds through parties, dances and a collection pot at their club bases.

“Over the years we have raised over half a million dollars for CLM and Community Living Espanola and similar agencies in southern Ontario,” said Mr. Arrowsmith. This year the bikers presented $3,652 dollars to CLM for the purchase of new metal picnic tables that are wheelchair accessible, and matching umbrellas.

The Brothers of the Blade provide medals to all clients of CLM, followed by each client being taken on rides on their motorcycles. The smiles on the faces of not only the CLM clients but the motorcyclists themselves is priceless.

Chris Crash stated at one point during the motorcycle ride, “All I can say is that God must love these kids as much as we do,” as he raised his arms in the air toward the beautiful sunny skies.

A fabulous barbecue lunch was then prepared and enjoyed by the clients and the bikers together.

“This is overwhelming,” stated Ms. Farquhar. “The kindness that you can feel here is incredible. There are no barriers here, everyone is just enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes people fear people with mental disabilities, but not these people. It’s incredible. And to watch the care they had to make sure one of our clients could get on the motorbike safely is incredible. This is an incredible group of people. And nothing speaks more than the smiles on the clients and the bikers faces.”