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Our Community: Cyclists ride in soldiers' footsteps

Four local cyclists have started a fundraising drive with a goal of raising $30,000 for Wounded Warriors Canada, a charity that supports rehabilitation programs for Canadians wounded in combat. The four, Matt Barlee, Dr.
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First mate Sam Vaale teaches students aboard the Pacific Grace as part of the Sail and Life Training SocietyÕs programs.

Four local cyclists have started a fundraising drive with a goal of raising $30,000 for Wounded Warriors Canada, a charity that supports rehabilitation programs for Canadians wounded in combat.

The four, Matt Barlee, Dr. Jamie Grimes, Paul Keene and Stephan Moreau will be travelling to Europe next month to participate in the Wounded Warriors Battlefield Ride 2014, where they will cycle 700 kilometres in the footsteps of Canadian troops from the First and Second World Wars. Participants in the eight-day ride include civilians riding alongside serving and retired Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

Money raised from the ride go toward supporting Wounded Warriors Canada’s Animal Assisted Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Therapy programs (both equine and canine) for ill or injured Canadian Forces members.

“I personally have experienced the harrowing effects of PTSD first hand,” said Barlee, who served 24 years with the military. “A non-commissioned member was assigned to my unit after being discharged from a psychiatric hospital to treat his PTSD. To see him overcome [his disorder] was the single most rewarding event in my career. So when I was given this opportunity to help on a larger scale, I was immediately on board.”

He said the ride is an opportunity to give back for the “incredible support” he got from the military when he was a member.

This year’s event is significant as it marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. The ride is a journey with stops at historically significant battlefields and cemeteries for Canadians, such as Juno Beach, Bretteville Canadian Cemetery, Dieppe and Vimy Ridge.

The four-man team will be riding as Team Synergy, sponsored by Synergy Health Management, a multi-disciplinary health and wellness company.

As part of their fundraising effort, they are hosting a local Wounded Warriors Community Ride on Saturday, May 10. The event consists of a 30-kilometre family ride, followed by a community barbecue and silent auction.

The event is free, but donations are encouraged. The ride runs from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and starts and ends at Gabriel Ross Furniture, 2500 Rock Bay Ave. To donate, go to synergyhealthmanagement.com or goo.gl/MMWmcv. For more information on Wounded Warriors Canada, go to woundedwarriors.ca.

Tall ships offer seagoing adventure

For a few days a year, young adults from all socioeconomic backgrounds take a break from technology and experience what its like to crew a tall ship.

Every year, 1,700 young adults 13 to 25 years old exchange their phones and tablets for ropes and tackles as the Sail and Life Training Society (SALTS) sets sail for adventure between early March and October.

The voyages, usually five days in the spring and fall and between 10 and 22 days in the summer, are designed to develop the spiritual, relational and physical potential of young people.

“Teachers sometimes tell us that their students grow closer from five days at sea than 10 months in school,” said Loren Hagerty, executive director of the registered charity. “The ocean voyage serves to take them out of their comfort zone.”

The young crew are given responsibilities, from taking the wheel of the boat, bow watch, navigation or galley chores, giving them the opportunity to learn and interact with others. A bursary program ensures youth from low-income households or at-risk can also be part of the life training the program offers.

This is the 40th year for the society, which operates two tall ships — the Pacific Swift and Pacific Grace. Participants come from all over British Columbia and 30 per cent from Alberta.

This week’s group of sailors will return and the two boats will be docked and open to the public as part of this weekend’s Victoria Harbour Boat Show.

Admission is part of general admission to the boat show. The boat will be available for viewing between 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at Ship Point Wharf in the Inner Harbour. For more information, go to salts.ca.

Soccer fundraiser aims for world record

Organizers of the 4th annual Anneswer to Cancer soccer tournament will attempt to set a world record on Saturday by getting 597 people to make 12-yard passes — and raise funds for the Victoria Hospice at the same time. The current record is 596 people.

Brett Hyslop, owner of World Cup Soccer, lost his mother, Anne Gerard, to mesothelioma cancer on Christmas Day 2010. To honour her, and to thank the Victoria Hospice for her care, he decided to create an annual fundraising event using a play on words to include her first name. In the last three years, the event has raised more than $120,000.

“I have been blown away by the overwhelming support of my friends in the community and would like to thank everyone for their support,” said Hyslop.

Last year over 400 adult and youth players took part in the tournament. Funds were raised through pledges, activities and contests at the event.

Anyone can participate in the event by registering online and raising a minimum pledge of $25 for the world-record attempt and $75 for the tournament. The world-record attempt will begin at noon with the start of the soccer tournament following at the Finlayson turf field in Topaz Park. For more information, go to victoriahospice.kintera.org/anneswertocancer.

Therapy can aid learning issues

The Rotary Clubs of Greater Victoria Literacy Roundtable is sponsoring a public information session to explain Vision Therapy on Tuesday.

This meeting is a follow-up to a talk given by local optometrist, Dr. Cam McCrodan, last October about his experience with the therapy and the difference it has made to his patients who had struggled with a number of learning issues.

Rotary is a strong supporter of literacy initiatives, including the upcoming Times Colonist Book Sale.

Helena Murray-Hill, a 12-year-old who has experienced improvement in her learning attributed to the therapy, will be playing the Celtic Harp leading up to the presentation.

The event is free. It starts at 7 p.m. at the Berwick Theatre, Berwick Royal Oak retirement home, 4680 Elk Lake Dr. (next to the Howard Johnson Hotel).

Ministry helps AIDS, HIV victims in Uganda

Kenneth Mugayehwenkyi of Uganda will give a talk in Victoria tomorrow about his Anglican faith and passion for aiding the most vulnerable in the wake of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. He is in Canada as part of a cross-country goodwill tour.

Mugayehwenkyi founded Reach One, Touch One Ministries in 2003. It is a non-governmental Christian organization that serves over 700 vulnerable clients in an isolated mountainous section of Uganda.

It tends to seniors, their grandchildren and some HIV-positive widows. The ministry provides access to free medical care, safe housing, improved hygiene, food, income as well as emotional and spiritual support.

Tomorrow’s public meeting co-sponsored by GRAN (Grandmothers’ Advocacy Network), an organization of women who lobbies for older women affected by AIDS in Africa, and the Cadboro Bay United Church.

Admission is free but donations are welcome. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at the church, 2625 Arbutus Rd. For more information, go to grandmothersadvocacy.org.

Raise a Roof for Chilean victims

The Chilean community of Victoria is holding a fundraiser to help residents of Valparaiso, Chile rebuild after a fire that killed 12 people and destroyed nearly 3,000 homes last month.

The Raise a Roof event is actually two events — a family-friendly event during the day and a more adult-oriented event in the evening.

During the day people can get their faces painted, learn to salsa and watch a tango demonstration. At night, revellers can enjoy performances of Merengue, Bachata and other Latin music. There will be an open dance floor.

Admission is $5 for the day and $15 for the evening celebration. The day’s activities run 1 to 4 p.m. and the evening party runs 7 p.m. to midnight at the White Eagle Polish Association clubhouse, 90 Dock St. in James Bay. Limited parking. For more information, or to purchase tickets call 250-896-3059 or go to the La Fiesta Cafe, 1001 Douglas St.

Funding to support Island kids’ health

On Thursday the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island will announce more than $2.2 million in funding for children’s health programs on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

The money, raised by donations from the community, will be divided among eight grant recipients from Courtenay/Comox, Campbell River, and Cumberland in 2014 and 2015.

Since 1984, the foundation has invested more than $42 million.

Dignitaries expected to attend the announcement include Linda Hughes, CEO, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, Pam Moore, Upper Island Women of Native Ancestry, grant recipient and Lorraine Aitken, Comox Valley Child Development Association.

The ceremony starts at 2 p.m. at the Courtenay Museum, 207 Fourth St., Courtenay. For more information, go to childrenshealthvi.org.

Comox fundraiser helps families in need 

Registration is open for people to join the 2014 Simon’s Cycles You Are Not Alone ride in Comox.

The fundraising ride features routes for cyclists of all abilities, including 25-kilometre, 50-km or 100-km rides. There will also be a 5-km family loop and a special bike race for youngsters not yet comfortable with pedals.

“The event is a defining part of YANA’s fundraising calendar, it’s great family fun and we are delighted that Simon’s are partnering with us again,” said Marcie Dumais, executive director of the charity, which was founded in 1986.

Last year 271 cyclists helped raise over $28,000 towards Comox Valley families in need.

Anyone who has a bike is encouraged to join the ride. People are also invited to get involved by volunteering for the event.

Registration runs from $10 per person for the Family Ride to $50 for the 25, 50 and 100 km events (early bird discounts apply before Jun. 14). The rides will take place on Aug. 17 starting from Marina Park in Comox. For more information, go to yanacomoxvalley.com.

Strawberry Vale seeks help with reno

Strawberry Vale Preschool, which is celebrating its 120th year as an educational facility, is facing a big maintenance project to modernize the building. The non-profit organization is looking for community partners and companies to possibly help with this large task.

The co-op preschool is also hosting an open house for people to see how their model of parent participation works.

The open house runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 25 at the school, 4130 Rosedale Ave. For more information, go to strawberryvalepreschool.org.

Local charities benefit from Zonta funding

Two local charities supporting women recently were the recipients of funds from the Victoria chapter of the Zonta Club, a global organization working to advance the status of women through service and advocacy.

The club recently announced that over $2,000 from ticket sales from their annual fashion show will benefit the local branch of PEERS (Prostitution Empowerment Education and Resource Society).

They also announced they will be disbursing $8,000 of gaming funds this year to Wear 2 Start, a charity that outfits unemployed women who are living in poverty for job interviews. For more information, go to wear2start.com, zontavictoria.org and safersexwork.ca.