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‘Seven riders, six days, one mission’: Cyclists riding 1,000 km for children’s hospital

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Seven riders, six days, 1,000 km, and one great cause.

The first Great Lakes Ride (GLR) is underway, raising funds the Children’s Health Foundation in London, Ont.

“The hospital affects so many people in southwestern Ontario,” said Tim Ellis, organizer of the GLR. “So that's why I thought, you know, we're pretty much doing a perimeter of the people that are affected by this hospital.”

One person affected is the son of fellow rider Shane Van Allen.

“This hospital is very near and dear to our heart,” said Van Allen. “We didn't realize that it would be until our son Wade was born 10 years ago and he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The Children's Hospital here has a great CF clinic that we come and visit every three months.”

The Children’s Health Foundation is thrilled about the unique way Ellis and his fellow cyclists have come up with to raise much needed funds.

Participants in the Great Lakes Ride posed with Dr. Beary Goode, the mascot for the Children’s Health Foundation in London, Ont., on August 7, 2023. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

“The children's hospital sees over 57,000 kids every year,” said Jennifer Baxter, director of community relations at the Children’s Health Foundation.

“So where they're going, they're helping kids in those neighborhoods. We are raising funds for equipment, programs and services like art therapy, child life, music therapy, Ollie the Clown. So we if we didn't have donor funded programs, we [couldn’t] have those programs running,” said Baxter.

Ellis has been doing the Empire State Ride in New York for years in support of the Roswell Cancer Centre. He'd been looking for something similar in southwestern Ontario, but couldn't find anything of this calibre. So he mapped a route, grabbed some fellow experienced riders, and they're off.

Seven cyclists, seen on August 7, 2023, are doing a six day, 1,000 km Great Lakes Ride to benefit the Children’s Health Foundation in London, Ont. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

“I want to do the Great Lakes because of the different landscapes and different environments you do see around the different lakes,” said Ellis.

As the ride begins, they've raised close to $10,000 dollars. They hope as they move through the small towns, word of the ride will catch on, and they can raise more funds to benefit families like the Van Allens.

“I figure if my son shows up here every three months and has to get poked and prodded every three months for the rest of his life, I figured I could probably hammer out 1,000 [kilometres],” said Van Allen.

Ride Agenda:

  • Monday - London to Kincardine – 196 km
  • Tuesday – Kincardine to Collingwood – 222 km
  • Wednesday – Collingwood to Oakville – 170 km
  • Thursday – Oakville to Niagara Falls – 111 km
  • Friday - Niagara Falls to Simcoe – 176 km
  • Saturday – Simcoe to London – 150 km

An outline of the six day, 1,000 km Great Lakes Ride. (Source: Great Lakes Ride)

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