The 2017 Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride far exceeded fundraising expectations, raising more than $62,000 for the You Are Not Alone non-profit society.
The pledge site will remain open until August 31, however, meaning there is still time for the final tally to increase.
YANA Executive Director Marcie Dumais said the Aug. 20 ride went far beyond the organization’s fundraising goal of $50,000.
“We’re just thrilled. It far exceeded our expectations and it’s just a testament to everybody that got involved,” she said.
Nearly 1,000 people were involved with the fundraiser this year, including 593 cyclists and their supporters, 49 different sponsors and around 150 volunteers.
Cycling routes included a 25 kilometre, 50 kilometre or 100 kilometre ride throughout the Comox Valley. There was also a 6 kilometre family loop that allowed riders of all ages to cycle together. Routes started and stopped at the Marina Park, in Comox.
YANA is a community organization thats offers travel funding and accommodation to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical reasons. Money raised from the annual fundraiser goes to support its programs.
“Obviously the fundraising is critical to support our programs, but it’s also a really beautiful way to get a collective in the community doing something they love — which is cycling — [and turning it] into something that is really valuable and important for the community,” said Dumais.
“It’s this collective energy of people who love to get on their bikes and turning it into something really important for local families when they need it the most.”
The cycling fundraiser is one of two annual fundraisers for YANA. The other is the organization’s annual winter gala, called the Big Love Benefit.
YANA was formed in 1986. The first YANA Ride was in 2007. In 2013, YANA formed a partnership with Simon’s Cycles and 2017 marked the fifth annual Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride.
Our community has helped us create something very special with the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride. Cyclists, volunteers, donors and sponsors brought their best and it showed. Together we raised $62,000 for Comox Valley children and families. Thank you!
What a ride! We are still tallying monies raised and will have a total soon. Until then, have a peek at some beautiful memories of a very special day of cycling and community spirit in the Comox Valley. Find photos here.
Our gratitude to the lovely Bazett family who fundraised for YANA and brought beautiful Eliza in for a visit. You are very special to us!
Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride is a day away and 600 cyclists will be riding in this annual event to raise funds for YANA. Starting and ending in Marina Park, Comox, the ride is a celebration of community support for Comox Valley families.
Russ and Lori Ball of Audio Xcellence DJ Services are in the celebration business. After 23 years in the DJ business they count the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride as a favourite.
“We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on this day,” says Russ. “We’re long time YANA supporters and are happy to spend the day adding to the energy of the event.”
The upbeat soundtrack livens up the morning as cyclists leave the park and keeps the fun spirit going, all day.
“It really keeps the atmosphere of the event vibrant,” says YANA Community Relations Coordinator, Ocean Varney.
Volunteering their time is part of what Russ and Lori say is a priority for them, personally and in business.
“We love seeing all the families with their kids and their bikes, we wouldn’t miss it,” states Russ.
Best of all, they take requests!
The Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride registration site will be open until 11:59pm Friday, August 18th OR until such time as 600 cyclists have registered. No registration will be accepted on ride day. Route changes can be accommodated at the check-in area, but pay close attention to the event schedule as different routes leave at different times (below).
Check-in 8:00 – 8:30 am, Ride Briefing 8:40 am, Ride starts 9:00 am
Check-in 9:00 – 9:30 am, Ride Briefing 9:40 am, Ride starts 10:00 am
Check-in 10:00 – 10:30 am, Ride Briefing 10:40 am, Ride starts 11:00 am
Check-in 10:30 – 11:00 am, Ride Briefing 11:10 am, Ride starts 11:30 am
Starts 12:00 pm
Live Music: Jilli Martini
12:45 – 1:30 pm
Run Bike Event (4 and under)
Check-in and decorating ride bibs 1:00 – 1:20 pm, Ride Briefing 1:20 pm, Ride starts 1:30 pm
From 12:30 pm, Air Canada Foundation Fundraising Prize & Simon’s Cycles Grand Prize at 1:45 pm
Live Music: Jilli Martini
2:10 – 2:40 pm
By Spencer Anderson
It’s a community event that a little girl with a new tricycle would have loved to be a part of.
Instead, the family of Natasha Vipond will ride in the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride fundraiser on August 20 in her memory.
Natasha died of Heart Failure and Pulmonary Hypertension in hospital on July 16, 2015 following a heart transplant. She was 18 months old and left behind parents Vanessa and Les, and her older brother Ben, now age eight.
Natasha’s death followed over a year of exhausting hospital stays, medical appointments and travel out of town for the family.
That’s when YANA stepped in. The Comox Valley-based non-profit has, since 1986, offered financial assistance and accommodation to families whose children require out-of-town medical care. YANA also keeps four apartments close to BC Children’s Hospital for families like the Viponds.
“If it wasn’t for them, it would have been even more stressful,” Vanessa Vipond says.
Natasha was born in January 2014 following a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy. By all signs, she was a healthy baby girl.
But by the time she was four months old, she wasn’t gaining weight properly. A follow-up appointment with a pediatrician led to the discovery that she had an irregular heartbeat.
The family was sent to Victoria for testing, expecting an echocardiogram would resolve any concerns. Instead, the cardiologist invited Natasha’s parents into his office and said: “We need to talk.”
It turned out that Natasha had a condition called Left Ventricular Non-Compaction Cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart defect that prevents the heart from pumping efficiently. She would need a transplant to survive.
The family had expected to leave Victoria and go home the next morning. They ended up staying for a month.
“I remember sitting in that waiting room seeing all of the sick kids and their worried families, thinking: ‘It must be so hard to have a child who is sick having to go through terrible procedures,’” Vanessa recalled in a story she wrote on the experience. “Then, suddenly we became a family with a sick child.”
Natasha did get the heart transplant she needed and began a slow but steady recovery, despite going through a stroke and seizures. But one day, during physiotherapy, she went into cardiac arrest. Hospital staff did what they could, but after 45 minutes she died.
The Viponds are donating the tricycle they bought for Natasha during a trip back home from BC Children’s Hospital, shortly before she received the heart transplant. The toddler only got to use it once, but it is a powerful reminder of a time in her short life when she was happy and well enough to ride it.
Vanessa said it is “tough” to let go of the tricycle, but added: “I wanted it to be used for something and I’m glad that YANA is going to take it.”
Les and Ben took part in the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride the year Natasha passed away. This year, Vanessa will be joining them as a thank-you to the organization that helped them along the journey. She said it’s a service that prevented a huge financial toll on her family; something not every family can count on.
“We even met families from other cities who had to sell belongings so they could afford to be with their children,” she said. Others had to give up their jobs to spend time with their child.
The ride is also a chance to share the story of their daughter, whom they nicknamed ‘Tashy Smashy’ – an unstoppable force of silliness and laughter who would not let medications and medical equipment prevent her from reaching for and throwing her favourite toys or laughing with nurses after finishing a medical test.
“Nothing got her down,” Vanessa said.
“What it really comes down to is when you lose a child, the hardest thing is for them to be forgotten,” she said. “You want their journey to matter.”
“Natasha would be 3 1/2 this summer, so she absolutely would have been on her tricycle in Marina Park with us.”
Her message to other families who are experiencing the same thing: reach out and don’t give up.
“I would really just say to them, be open to help. You have to keep going. You have to keep positive.”
The Viponds will ride under the name ‘Team Natasha Rose’ in loving memory of their little girl.
To ride in the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride, or make a pledge in Viponds’ name, visit raceroster.com/events/2017/11701/simons-cycles-yana-ride.
Maggie celebrated her 8th birthday and included a donation to YANA in the festivities. Thank you!
Many thanks to the good people from Bikram Yoga Comox Valley who showed their love for a fellow yogi through a donation to YANA.