MINDEMOYA—As one member of the Brothers of the Blade Motorcycle Club said last Saturday, “it’s a day of a lot of smiles.”
The 26th Annual Pennies from Heaven celebration took place last Saturday at Timberlane Lodge in Big Lake. Every year Community Living Manitoulin (CLM) and Community Living Espanola (CLE) clients are feted at a party held in their honour by the Brothers of the Blade and Brothers of the Wheel Motorcycle Clubs. The club members take each of the clients on a ride on their motorcycles, help put on several games for the clients while the staff of Timberlane Lodge serve a barbecue lunch.
To top it all off, the club members present cheques to CLM officials at the end of the day that go toward needed purchases of each Community Living organization. The club members hold fundraisers during the year to raise these funds.
“This is our 26th year of holding this event; it originally started at my parents place (in Sheguiandah),” said Bruce Arrowsmith, main organizer of the annual Labour Day weekend event, this past Saturday. “I would like to thank all those who came out here today to take part.”
“What a great day,” said Mr. Arrowsmith. “We hope everyone had lots of fun and have full stomachs after the lunch. I want to thank Timberlane for the great food and accommodations. I want to especially acknowledge of our southern brothers, the Brothers of the Wheel, for being here again this year. We couldn’t do this without you and all the ladies and supporters of the Brothers of the Blade. Everyone certainly pulled together again this year to put this event on.”
Mr. Arrowsmith explained, “this event started 26 years ago, when myself and three members of our club were up on the Island and we saw the help that was needed by CLM. The first year we held this event we sent 42 pounds of pennies on the Chi-Cheemaun to my parents place and called it The Pennies From Heaven. Every year since it has grown and grown.”
“And over the years I’ve contacted the Manitoulin Island and Espanola community living agencies for a wish list of items that they don’t receive funding for,” said Mr. Arrowsmith. “This year was the same, with Espanola having asked for three items (totaling $2,035), a group or family membership to the community centre, additional flowerboxes for one of their group homes, and a video system for employment support.”
“The Manitoulin Island (the CLM) wish list included two dishwashers for the field house and Hope Terrace, a new dryer and a new couch for a total of $2,700,” continued Mr. Arrowsmith.
“Thank you very much. We appreciate your support of Community Living Manitoulin over the past 26 years and hope that it will continue in the future. What you do is really important and helps out a lot of people,” said Tammie Molenaar, executive director of CLM.
Mr. Arrowsmith noted, “we have fundraised and provided over $400,000 to the two Community Living groups (locally) over the past 26 years. We do a similar event for a group in southern Ontario as well. But Manitoulin Island is where this event started. It is very special to us.”
On hand for the day were 65 members from the two motorcycle clubs and 85 Community Living clients from Manitoulin and Espanola. The motorcyclists travel from as far away as West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee.
Linda and Ray, both CLM clients, have been on hand for all 26 Pennies From Heaven celebrations. “I can’t believe they have been doing this that long,” stated Linda McCulligh.