Biking group, OPP take 180km tour to aid Special Olympics

There was a meeting here of cops and bikers on Friday morning, but it was all smiles and chuckles.

The OPP Golden Helmets met the Beaver Valley 180.

The members of that cycling club were travelling from Oakville to a ski resort in the Beaver Valley, and the Golden Helmets joined them as an escort from Fergus.

Police and cyclists mingled in the parking lot of the Royal Bank, greeted by bank manager Mark Burton and his staff, who supplied drinks and sandwiches to the group.

Mike Van Hees, of Scotia Capital, explained that the cyclists started holding road trips for charity about six years ago. He said they are all fitness buffs, and cycling 180km in a single day allows them to get into shape for the skiing season. He added that the members include those who compete in iron man competitions.

They also raise funds for charity. A few years ago, they learned of the death of Josh Mazza, whose father was the head of Air Ambulance. To honour Josh and raise funds for his foundation, they started collecting donations and sponsorships for their ride. That first year, they raised $23,000.

Last year, 23 riders raised money for the Markdale Hospital.

This year, they decided to ride for the Special Olympics – a cause near and dear to the OPP, who sponsor a Torch Run each year to raise funds for those athletes.

“The OPP got involved because of the Torch Run,” Van Hees said, adding that the 50 cyclists this year are “pretty close” to their goal of raising $50,000. The Golden Helmets, a group of OPP officers on Harley Davidson police bikes, escorted the group all the way to its destination.

Van Hees said writing a cheque for the Special Olympics is “pretty special.”

Motorized and pedal powered riders received an unexpected surprise and donation when the Grade 3 and 4 class of Tracy Speers visited. That class was celebrating a Crazy Hair day, and had raised $200 for the Special Olympics, which produced a loud cheer from all the participants.

The students later scattered all over the parking lot, talking to the riders. Many of them were enthralled to learn that the Golden Helmets have their own trading cards, and were even happier when officers started handing them out by the doz­ens.

Burton said the Beaver Val­ley 180 club contacted him several months ago and asked if they could use the Royal Bank’s parking lot. He noted that the Royal Bank is also a big contributor to the Special Olympics, having designated $225,000 in donations over three years, so his branch was pleased to accommodate every­one.

Burton and a number of students in multi-hued hair then cut a rope that closed off the parking lot for the event, and the bikers were on their way to Beaver Valley in excellent, sunny weather.