What would go through your mind if you saw a group of 26 older cyclists wearing neon green shirts struggling up hills and braving weekend traffic on Island roads and highways? Would you think this must be a group of extreme athletes or a bunch of foolhardy seniors?
Well, if you notice this group pedalling along any time during the weekend of September 10 to 12, they are grandmothers and “grand others” riding a route of 280 kilometres. From the starting point in Courtenay to the finish line in Victoria, they ride in support of African grandmothers - the sole caregivers of their grandchildren orphaned due to the AIDS pandemic.
These riders have committed to raising funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which supports over 300 community-based projects in sub-Saharan Africa. The funds raised by these riders will go to assist grandmothers to pay school fees, buy school uniforms and pay for every day needs such as food and medicine.
In addition to fundraising, all riders pay a registration fee to participate in the ride, and pay their own accommodation and meal expenses. Every penny of the money the riders raise is forwarded to the Stephen Lewis Foundation to be used for African grandmothers.
What is it that makes these Canadian seniors train for months in preparation for this ride, raise funds and spend their own money to ride 100 kilometres a day for three days, rain or shine, in hot weather or cold?
The answer is simple. It is the least they believe they can do to show solidarity with African grandmothers who have no other means than walking long distances with heavy containers of water or other goods on their heads as they struggle to look after their grandchildren. It is the Island grandmothers’ way of living out the motto of the 250 national grandmothers’ groups of the Stephen Lewis Foundation – “We shall not rest until they can rest.”
So, as you pass by in your car or stand by the side of the road, remember the goal of these seniors and give a wave or a honk and perhaps a donation. Whatever your support, it will help them climb their own personal “mountains” and give hope to grandmothers far away in Africa.
SEPTEMBER 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND
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