Athletes supporting athletes raise over $100,000 for Special Olympics

There are bikers, and then there are bikers.

Despite the drizzle, dozens of riders from across the province took part in a ride to support the Ontario Law Enforcement’s Torch Run for Special Olympics.

The essence of the ride, “Athletes helping Athletes” will afford young men and wo­men the opportunity to achieve their goals of competing.”

The ride on Oct. 9 travelled 180 km through southwestern Ontario.

Beginning in Oakville, the ride moved through the communities of Burlington, Water­down, Carlisle, Fergus, Flesh­erton and finished at the ski club in Beaver Valley.

The OPP Golden Helmets police officers escorted riders to provide security and safety. Funds raised go to the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

Organizer Mike Van Hees said the ride, which has existed for the past five or six years, started with a group of individuals just trying to get in shape.

“We’d start in Oakville and head to Beaver Valley where a lot of members ski,” Van Hees said. “Since then, it has grown with the appeal of the fall ride.”

He noted the season is over and people have finished racing and are getting ready for Thanksgiving.

“We said Friday was a great day to take off and go for a ride. Then a couple of years ago, we said what a great idea if we dovetail this to do some good. We could throw some loot in a pack, donate it to a good cause.”

Van Hees said that four years ago there was a tragedy at the ski club, so the members tossed money into a hat and raised $22,000.

Two years ago, the group raised money for the Markdale hospital, for an operating table.

Last year, the bikers thought it would be a great idea to help raise money for the Special Olympics.

Van Hees said there are a number of Olympic athletes in the ride as well as a number of Canadian champions, and people on national teams.

“I thought athletes helping athletes was a great segue into the Special Olympics,” he said.

Last year, seven guys were involved in the ride and raised $54,000. Since then, the appeal of the ride has taken off, Van Hees said.

The OPP Golden Helmets precision riding team escorted the riders, because the event dovetails its own efforts to raise funds for the Special Olympics.

This year, the ride had close to 70 cyclists and the expectation was that over $100,000 would be raised.

Van Hees  considered the Fergus stop as key to the ride.

The town is close to the midway point of the ride, and he added that the Royal Bank and RBC is a big supporter of the run.

For more information please visit www.beaver­