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YANA is a community organization offering help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical treatment for a child or for a pregnant mother. Our purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation.
The crafting of 5000 Christmas Crackers for YANA has begun! We are looking for eagle-eyed, nimble-fingered adult volunteers to help create YANA Christmas Crackers for this annual fundraising tradition.
Check out this tutorial video by our lead cracker creator Robbie. Does this look like something you’d be able to do? Would you love to help raise money in support of YANA’s accommodation and travel funding programs for Comox Valley families?
Talia Ruttan and mom Kelsey (left) and Autumn Helme and mom Melissa get ready to hand out water bottles for YANA riders at the finish line. Photo by Mike Chouinard.
In its seventh year, the event attracted the maximum 600 riders
It’s got a new name, but it’s still raising money for families needing medical treatments.
The Comox Bike Company YANA (You Are Not Alone) Ride once again attracted a full slate of bike riders on Sunday, Aug. 18, with riders starting at different times based on different course lengths starting at Comox Marina Park.
“This is the seventh year for the ride as it exists,” says executive director Kelly Barnie says. “It used to be the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride. The guys from the shop purchased the shop, and it is the Comox Bike Company YANA Ride now.”
The lengths were 100-km, 50-km and 25-km as well as a 6-km Family Ride, with generally a little over 125 on up to 200 riders for each route.
“We have 600 riders. That’s always our maximum,” says Barnie, adding the ride filled up a little over a week before the deadline this year.
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YANA raises money for Comox Valley families with children under 19 or with a pregnant mother needing to travel out of town for medical treatment.
“YANA paid for me to live in Victoria with my daughter for three months,” says mom Kelsey Ruttan. “They kind of saved our bacon. It enabled us to stay with her.”
Similarly, Melissa Helme has to take her daughter to go to Port Alberni for weekly medical visits.
“It helps get us there and back each week,” she says.
Both moms and their daughters, Talia Ruttan and Autumn Helme, were among the “ambassadors” greeting riders at the finish line in Comox Marina Park on Sunday.
Another new feature this year is the ambassadors hand out YANA Ride water bottles to the participants instead of medals, as in the past.
Both Ruttan and Helme say the YANA Ride and the support it receives are a sign of how much the Comox Valley gets behind the event.
“It just shows how much the community cares about people’s kids,” says Helme.
The official goal for YANA is $50,000, but the hope was to raise as much as $80,000. As of Tuesday, organizers came up with a final tally, and in the end, they did reach their goal of $80,000.
Last year, the ride raised about $70,000, and as of ride day this year the total was approaching that. Barnie said the ride’s importance is clear by summing up how much this fundraising means to the organization.
“That pays for about half the total expenses we give families,” she says.
“It’s a big, big part of our budget for families for the year.”
Lisa Wilcox is getting ready to embark on her fourth Comox Bike Co. YANA Ride on Aug. 18, gearing up and training to undertake her biggest challenge yet: a 100 km scenic route around the Comox Valley.
The YANA Ride has become an annual community tradition for many families, and is an indispensable fundraising event for YANA, bringing in thousands of dollars each year to provide financial relief of travel and accommodation expenses for pregnant women and families whose children require medical support outside of the community.
Wilcox’s connection to YANA began over a decade ago when her newborn daughter needed care at BC Children’s Hospital. A social worker at the hospital mentioned the support she could receive through YANA, and Wilcox was moved by the generosity of the organization and her community.
Wilcox was able to rely on family support during their stay, but just knowing the option was available brought her peace of mind during a difficult time.
“It was such a relief to know that if I did need something, I could go back and ask them for help.”
CVRD Area B director Arzeena Hamir is a longtime friend of Wilcox. The two met one another through a food subscription program run by Hamir’s family-run business, Amara Farm. It was a simple Facebook post made by Wilcox seeking pledges for this year’s ride that led Hamir to get behind a dear friend and an important cause.
“Being a farmer, the timing of the ride just doesn’t work for us, so I’m super happy to support people who take on the challenge. She’s riding on my behalf too. She’s been so supportive of me and the farm, it’s a way to give back.”
Wilcox was one of the top five fundraisers for last year’s event, and said she did little more than ask for pledges on Facebook and email a few colleagues, noting that it doesn’t take much to rally support for a cause that the community truly values. And, fundraising has its perks: riders who raise $50 will receive an exclusive YANA Ride hat, and for every $100 raised will be entered in a draw to win two return tickets for travel to any Air Canada scheduled destination in North America. This year, a generous donor has stepped up. All pledges made between Aug. 1-15 will be matched up to $5,000. Pledges can be made by going to yanacomoxvalley.com and clicking the blue “Register – Pledge – More Info” button. When donors tag the rider they sponsored on YANA’s Facebook post, their donation will be doubled.
The opportunity to participate and donate carries on after the ride is done with a ‘Party at the Park’ at Marina Park. The whole community is invited to join in celebrating riders at the finish line, and can support YANA by donating on site, entering the 50/50 draws, enjoying the beer garden, or purchasing a T-shirt, hat, socks or other unique YANA gear at the merchandise tent. There will be live entertainment throughout the day and a Little Wheelers event for the youngest of riders. There’s something for everyone, and you’re guaranteed to see a familiar face.
“Reach out to a rider that you know and support them,” said Hamir. “Not all of us can be on the ride, so here’s your chance to now participate in supporting an organization that is so critical to the values and the fabric of the Comox Valley.”
The YANA Ride takes place Sunday, Aug. 18. For more information, to donate, or to register for the ride, visit www.yanacomoxvalley.com