Starlight Foundation presents Central Manitoulin with plaque

Mayor Richard Stephens accepts a plaque expressing the appreciation of the the Starlight Children’s Foundation on behalf of the Municipality of Central Manitoulin presented in the council chambers by a delegation consisting of Ride Manitoulin chair Mr. Vilkarsis and committee members Cyndi Vilkarsis and Anna Orford. photo by Michael Erskine

MINDEMOYA—A delegation from the Starlight Foundation and Ride Manitoulin came to the April 14 Central Manitoulin council meeting to recognize the support of the municipality, mayor and council, for the annual motorcycle rendezvous known as Ride Manitoulin.

“We wanted to present the glorious and illustrious Town of Mindemoya with this plaque of appreciation,” said Ride Manitoulin Chair Roger Vilkarsis, eliciting a quip from Mayor Richard Stephens, “that’s a good start.” After the laughter had died down, Mr. Vilkarsis went on to say  that “you are our biggest supporter.”

Mr. Vilkarsis went on to explain that this will be the sixth year for the popular motorcycling event on Manitoulin, and although last year was the smallest to date, likely due to a combination of bad weather and another competing event, the organization was still able to donate $4,500 to assist in the good work of the Starlight Foundation and retain startup funds for this year’s event of $4,000.

“We receive no grants from government,” noted Mr. Vilkarsis, although he went on to admit that was likely to the dearth of expertise in filing applications.

In any event, the organizers anticipate that Ride Manitoulin will experience a considerable attendance renaissance this year. “We have been hearing good things from the other event,” he noted. “People weren’t happy with it. All there was time to do was party.”

The Ride Manitoulin event is aimed at a different demographic of motorcyclists than those typically seen in reruns of the ‘The Wild One.’

For over 23 years, the Starlight Children’s Foundation has been transforming the lives of Canadian children who live with serious illness and their families, being there “for the entire journey—from the emergency room to recovery.”

While in-hospital, Starlight Children’s Foundation “provides distraction, entertainment and relief from the stress and boredom of hospitalization and when out-of-hospital, children benefit from the organizations ‘Escapes’ and ‘Wishes’ programs, which give the young patients “an opportunity to leave the ‘sick’ behind, create special family memories and return home with a renewed sense of strength and hope.”

Mr. Vilkarsis noted that Ride Manitoulin draws thousands of people to the Island each year, not only to Central Manitoulin, but to all of the Island communities as riders explore the region. “We bring in tens of thousands of dollars in tourism.”

Mayor Richard Stephens accepted the plaque on behalf of the Municipality of Central Manitoulin from the delegation of the Starlight Children’s Foundation consisting Mr. Vilkarsis and Ride Manitoulin committee members Cyndi Vilkarsis and Anna Orford.