Originally published by Comox Valley Record –Aug 19, 2019
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.”