Public servants on 275 km Northern Ride for United Way visit the Island

Bike for United Way cyclists Michael Bennison, Barry Clout, Rob Davis, Ted DeCorso, Sheila DeCuyper, Bob Jeffery, Grant Karwacki, Paul Lim-Hing, Jennifer McKay, Julian Richards and Geri Smith get ready to head out from the Little Current rec centre on an epic 275 kilometre ride across northern Manitoulin to raise awareness and funds. photo by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT – The United Way has impacted many lives in Island communities and across the country, but the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has drained the coffers of many charities. A group of 12 public servants kicked off the first of five Bike for United Way (B4UW) with the first of three Northern Rides, a commitment to cycling three-days and 275 kilometres through Manitoulin Island in support of United Way.

“B4UW is an annual OPS employee charity ride that has raised over $330,000 since 2012. This ride is a great vehicle to raise money for important charitable work and to connect with our communities,” said Bob Jeffery, co-lead of the Northern Manitoulin Ride. “Now more than ever, our community needs our support. Funds raised will help United Way’s network of funded organizations ensure that vital social services are available when people need them the most.”

“B4UW is an epic ride that challenges cyclists to push their limits physically and mentally, rely on one another for support and encouragement,” added co-lead Julian Rickards, “and to come together for a common cause, helping our communities.”

“Noojmowin Teg got $50,000 from United Way to help with our food security initiative,” said Christianna Jones, health and wellness manager at the Indigenous health services organization. Ms. Jones had come down to the launch to show her agency’s support for the cause.

“Through the emergency community support fund the United Way was able to give us $75,000, which we will be able to use to hire someone to come and assist our team,” said Manitoulin Family Resources (MFR) executive director Marnie Hall. As was reported earlier in The Expositor, the MFR Help Centre has had to close its thrift store and expanded its food bank storage, but it is hoped the new assistant will enable the organization to resume providing support similar to the Help Centre resources “in a new way.” MFR is also purchasing iPads for seniors to help them access programing and services; the new hire will provide technical support to assist elders in utilizing the equipment.

The three-day Northern Manitoulin Ride began in Little Current as the participating cyclists ride 85 kilometres of Highway 540 to reach Lake Wosley Objewung Tent and Trailer Park. Day two saw a 105 kilometre stretch to Meldrum Bay and back, while on day three the team returned to Little Current along a more southerly route on Highway 551.

B4UW is an annual Ontario public servant charity ride and funds raised through the ride help the United Way’s network of funded partners and programs ensure that hundreds of thousands of Ontarians have access to vital social services when and where they need them most—in their community. Since its inception, the B4UW has raised more than $330,000.

The riders on this year’s ride include: Michael Bennison, Barry Clout, Rob Davis, Ted DeCorso, Sheila DeCuyper, Bob Jeffery, Grant Karwacki, Paul Lim-Hing, Jennifer McKay, Julian Richards and Geri Smith.

“We are grateful to this group of riders and their counterparts across the province for using this platform to raise awareness and resources that will be invested in essential programs that are helping thousands of people in our community now and into the future,” said Mary Lou Hussak, executive director with United Way Centraide North East Ontario. “I encourage everyone who can support their efforts to make a donation.”

To learn more about B4UW drop by www.b4uw.org and while you are there pause to make a donation in support of the cause. Donations will be accepted until October 15.