EVANSVILLE – The first of five Bike for United Way charity rides took place on Manitoulin Island last weekend with a total of 12 Ontario Public Service (OPS) workers completing a three-day, 275-kilometre ride through Manitoulin Island in support of the United Way. And through the local ride, and one that took place in Prince Edward County this past weekend, $17,000 was raised.
In total, five rides will take place in Ontario with the fundraising goal having been set at $25,000.
“We all work for Ontario Public Service (OPS),” said Julian Rickards, co-lead for the Northern Manitoulin Island Ride, along with Bob Jeffery. “For the last eight years, since 2012 basically, we hold these charity rides to raise money for United Way, who in turn helps those in the local area. We have raised over $330,000 during this time.”
“We have riders here from Guelph, Toronto, Peterborough, North Bay and Sudbury taking part this year,” said Mr. Jeffery.
The three-day ride started in Little Current last Friday, with cyclists riding 85 kilometres to Lake Wolsey Obejewung Tent and Trailer Park (in Evansville) via Highway 540 along the north half of the Island. Day two took riders from Obejewung in Evansville to Providence Bay and back to Evansville, and on Sunday riders rode from Evansville back to Little Current, going through Mindemoya on their travels.
On Saturday’s ride, “we are heading to Providence Bay, where Mary Jo Gordon and Alex Baran are hosting a lunch for us,” said Mr. Jeffery.
“Each year five different rides are held, with about 30 different riders taking part in total every year, with the goal to raise about $25,000,” said Mr. Rickards. “This is one of five rides.”
The riders tented at Obejewung Park. “The people who operate the camp (Jim and Theresa Noble) donated the camp sites for us, and opened up their food shack for us as well. They have been really great to us.”
Funds raised on the rides will help United Way’s network of funded organizations and ensure that vital social services are available when people need them most.”
“We had a really good turnout at the opening yesterday (September 11) in Little Current of local OPS workers. Representatives of the Manitoulin Family Resource Centre and Noojmowin Teg Health Services were there as well,” said Mr. Jeffery. “They told us the food bank usually helps 300 clients-families a month and now with the pandemic this has increased to 1,500. It was good to hear that what we are doing will be helping them as well.”
Paul Lim-Hing, who works for the Ministry of Transportation, said “this is my sixth B4UW ride and I am very excited and proud to do so. It’s a great way to contribute to a worthy cause. We all know someone who needs our help. It’s also an opportunity to experience the beautiful Ontario scenery and meet new people who share the same passion for cycling.”
Michael Bennison, who works as an information technology project manager for the Ministry of the Solicitor General said, “five years ago a long ride like B4UW was just something that was on my bucket list to do once, but it kinds of gets in your blood. Also, there is the beautiful scenery, fresh air and I love the team building and camaraderie. Also, United Way supports many good programs across the province.”
“I’m inspired by my colleagues in government, health care and the BPS who have been working so hard for so many months to manage COVID-19 and help support those who are vulnerable or who have been impacted,” said Sheila DeCuyper, director, integration and business improvement with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. “This year, perhaps more than most other years, the United Way is critical to providing local and community based supports when people need them.”
For more information about B4UW or to donate, please visit www.b4uw.org. Donations will be accepted until October 15, 2020.