Why we ride for YANA

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By Spencer Anderson, originally published in the Comox Valley Record on August 9, 2018

For 32 years, You Are Not Alone (YANA) has been there for Comox Valley families faced with having to travel outside the community to receive medical treatment for their child or pregnancy.

YANA was founded by Sandra Williams, whose family bore the full financial and emotional burden of leaving town to receive care for their daughter Roberta.

“Events like the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride are what makes it all possible. The cyclists, volunteers and sponsors help us raise thousands of dollars. All the funds enable us to provide accommodation for families, as well as help with costs of travel, food, parking and unexpected expenses,” explains Marcie Dumais, YANA’s Executive Director.

The annual event takes place Sunday, August 19 and allows riders to take part in a 25 kilometre, 50 km and 100 km loop, as well as a six km family route.

This year, we spoke to longtime participants who have never used the service themselves and asked them why they still take part after all these years.

Dr. Don Blacklock
Retired Physician

Dr. Don Blacklock and his family love cycling, they ride in this event to support the cause his late wife Sharon advocated for as she was the family physician of YANA’s Founder.

Don’s wife Sharon Blacklock was one of the first female physicians in the Comox Valley and was the Williams’ family doctor.

Sharon was also a prominent community worker and volunteer, serving as medical director of the Cumberland Child Development Centre and winning Canadian Family Physician of the Year in 1993.

An early and vocal supporter of YANA, Don said Sharon saw the need for out-of-town supports for families living in a small community.

“I think it’s just a great thing for a small place to do,” Don said. “We’re not as little anymore, but this was revolutionary. As far as I know, it’s the first of its kind in Canada.”

Sharon died in 1997, but Don said his wife’s passion for supporting the important work that was going on in the community set her apart.

“That’s why YANA does well – it has credibility and they follow through.”

Shannon Colthorpe
Longtime YANA Supporter

Shannon Colthorpe has brought her enthusiasm to the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride for many years and knows the value YANA’s support provides to Comox Valley families.

Shannon has fortunately never had to use YANA’s services – but two friends have.

One friend knew through her pregnancy that she was going to need help, while the second didn’t know until after she gave birth.

“Seeing two of my friends being able to focus on their babies getting better rather than worry about travel and accommodation costs showed me the importance of YANA. There’s a real community network to get you what you need when you need it,” she said.

Shannon takes part in the 50 km ride almost every year and always enjoys cheering on the 100 km riders as they take off. Taking part with people from every age and sharing a feeling of accomplishment after the event is also a highlight.

“Everyone’s exhausted and starving and hot, but we’ve all done it and it’s nice to sit on the grass together,” she said.

Dr. Phil Luke
Emergency Physician

Dr. Phil Luke enjoys supporting the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride because he knows the funds will help those he has seen struggle throughout his career. Seen here with his wife, Julia Loo at last year’s ride.

Phil knows all too well how many families find themselves having to leave home to access care for their children elsewhere. Many patients are babies who are born premature and have to be flown out of the Valley for intensive neonatal care.

“Twenty years of emergency medicine and I’ve seen all sorts of people who have had to rely on YANA,” he said.

Although the Comox Valley now has a new hospital, the need for YANA is no less than 10 years ago, Phil says.

The YANA Ride stands alone as a great community occasion powered by volunteers – whom Phil calls “the true heroes.”

“There’s this whole emotion of a big ride – it’s a fabulous event,” he said.

“It’s what motivates an average joe like me. There’s a huge personal reward to it.”

Click here for more information, to make a pledge or to register for the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride.

Comox Valley philanthropists share the wealth

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Royston Elementary held art afternoons once a week for the month of May with a guest artist in most classrooms. Students showcased their work at an Art Show and Auction held in June. From the proceeds of the sale, a cheque for $750 has been issued to YANA. We give a special thank you to Dave Stevens, our guest auctioneer, and all our classroom artists for sharing their time and talents with us.

~ The Comox Valley Record

Introducing our new Executive Director and staff team

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Look at the team we are building to ensure local families continue to receive support from their community when they need it most! Left to right: Dennyse Harris (Family Services), Kelly Barnie (Incoming Executive Director, August), Deanne McRae (Community Relations Coordinator), Joan McCaughey (Family Services) and Marcie Dumais (Outgoing Executive Director, September). Kelly Barnie brings a long history of work in non-profit leadership and community service to the team and we are thrilled that she will be our Executive Director come September. Feeling grateful and excited!

Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride Early Registration Deadline July 16

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Join us for the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride on Sunday, August 19. Cyclists of all ages and abilities can take part in this fun and challenging ride through the beautiful Comox Valley. Routes of varying distances ensure everyone can participate. There is a 25km, 50km and a 100km loop as well as a 6km family route that allows riders of all ages to cycle together. For little ones not yet using pedals we will be hosting a special Little Wheelers activity in the park. Register before July 16 and receive a commemorative shirt courtesy of Dr. Andreas Conradi.

Click here for more information, to register or to pledge a cyclist.  Bikes will keep us together!

Every City Needs One

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We were thrilled to receive a grant from the City of Courtenay earlier this year that allowed us to do various maintenance projects at our four YANA apartments in Vancouver. Now all apartments have sofa beds in the living room, a new dining room table and chairs, new rugs, ottomans, curtains and well-functioning computers and wifi. We also added a beautiful reminder of home through local artwork by Tracy Kobus. “Every City Needs One” is a perfect addition to each apartment.  The YANA apartments continue to be an important resource for Comox Valley families who need to stay in Vancouver while a child or pregnant mother has medical treatment.

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