General News

YANA Ride in Comox raises thousands for families with medical needs

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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.

RELATED STORY: YANA Ride set to roll in Comox

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.”

You don’t have to ride to support the Comox Bike Co. YANA Ride

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – Aug. 10, 2019

REGISTER – PLEDGE – MORE INFO

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

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Anonymous donor to match pledges made to YANA Ride participants from Aug 1-15

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – Aug. 1, 2019

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The Comox Bike Co. YANA Ride is one of the biggest fundraising events of the year for YANA. The need for YANA travel and accommodation funding continues to increase, with YANA providing support for more than 500 medical trips for Comox Valley families each year.

Thanks to an anonymous donor who has stepped up to support this fundraiser in a big way, for the first time ever, your donations to riders participating in the event will go twice as far.

Between 9 a.m. Aug. 1 and 11:59 p.m. Aug. 15, make a pledge to a rider and tag them on YANA’s Facebook Post, and your donation will be matched by an incredibly generous YANA champion, up to $5,000!

The Comox Bike Company YANA Ride, taking place Aug. 18, is a fun and challenging ride through the beautiful Comox Valley. There is a 25-km, 50-km and a 100-km loop as well as a 6-km family route that allows riders of all ages to cycle together.

REGISTER – PLEDGE – MORE INFO

Super prizes for Comox Bike Co. YANA Ride Fundraising!

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Ivan Lee of TD Wealth is a proud sponsor of the all-new YANA Ride snap-back hats.

2018 Air Canada Foundation airfare prize winner Peter Donkers.

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YANA’s Comox Bike Co. Annual Ride is one of their biggest fundraising events of the year, with proceeds directed toward the accommodation and travel funding programs YANA provides for Comox Valley families.

With an ever-growing need for support comes their biggest fundraising goal yet.

With the amazing help of the community, YANA hopes to raise at least $80,000 at this year’s Ride event. If that goal is reached, about half of the travel funding required for families would be covered in the year ahead.

YANA is offering some great prizes and a brand new incentive for riders to gather pledges and donations to help reach this goal:

**Riders who raise at least $50 will earn an exclusive YANA Ride hat compliments of event sponsor Ivan Lee of TD Wealth. 

**For every $100 raised, riders will earn an entry to win two return tickets for travel to any Air Canada scheduled destination in North America. The tickets are valued at over $2400 and the chances of winning are fantastic!

**Every registered rider has a chance to win a draw prize.

The Comox Bike Company YANA Ride is a fun and challenging ride through the beautiful Comox Valley on Sunday, Aug. 18.

For more information, to register, or to donate to a rider:REGISTER – PLEDGE – MORE INFO

YANA Ride set to roll in Comox

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – June 8, 2019

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With a plan for an even bigger post-ride party, the annual Comox Bike Company YANA Ride is set to roll this summer.

Kelly Barnie, executive director of YANA (You Are Not Alone) said the event, which started in 2013, is set for Aug. 18 at Comox Marina Park.

The newly branded Comox Bike Company – formerly known as Simon’s Cycles – is jumping on board with its longstanding partnership of the event, which serves to be one of YANA’s biggest fundraising events of the year.

“We’re excited to continue this collaborative event with YANA for sure,” said co-owner Craig Harris. “It’s a cause we believe in and a contribution to the community that we’re so happy to be a part of.”

Riders in the event will take their pick from a variety of scenic routes which include a 25 km, 50 km and a 100 km loop. There will also be a six km family route that allows riders of all ages and abilities to ride together. The post-ride party will be held at Marina Park where participants can celebrate their achievements and enjoy lunch, live entertainment, draw prizes and discounts at Comox Bike Co. for all riders and volunteers.

Barnie explained the ride caps at 600 riders with registration “pretty well spaced out” between the various event lengths.

“It’s so cool to watch the riders coming back into the park, seeing their supporters cheering them on, and celebrating their success and support for YANA,” she added.

“The whole community comes together to sponsor these riders, and we’re looking forward to the party in the park congratulating them when they finish their ride.”

Last year, 600 cyclists, 175 volunteers and 63 sponsors raised $70,000 in support of Comox Valley families whose children required medical care away from their home community. All proceeds from this event with benefit You Are Not Alone (YANA).

YANA helped 161 local families in 2018, funded almost 500 medical trips, provided over $140,000 in financial assistance and offered homes away from home in Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver.

For more information and to register for the Comox Bike Company YANA Ride, visit https://www.yanacomoxvalley.com/yana-event/ride/.

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Best Valley Vonka Fundraiser Ever

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Amazing things happens when powerhouse community champions like the Comox Valley Record, Courtney & Anglin Real Estate Group and Hot Chocolates team up with some fantastic prize donors & campaign partners to set a $10,000 goal. Over $13,000?!?! Sooooo awesome!  Big kudos as well to Lisa Joan, founder of Isla Life Designs. Lisa brings a unique kind of magic to the annual chocolate bar campaign with her lively artwork.  Her enthusiasm for wildlife with big colorful personalities shines through.  And YANA benefits from the happy artwork to keep our office uplifting and kid-friendly. Thank you for supporting our YANA families! https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/community/cheque-presented-to-yana-after-most-successful-valley-vonka-ever/?fbclid=IwAR3Cb7FpjnAaFQtA98gGdQREzU0Jq3lstZJSb-8dqzWPHvSzw2Tu0lyy11E

Photo by Terry Farrell

 

Registration Open NOW for the 2019 Comox Bike Company YANA Ride

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Join us Sunday, August 18, 2019 for one of YANA’s biggest fundraisers of the year.

The annual YANA ride is gearing up with Comox Bike Company (formerly Simon’s Cycles), for another spectacular event. This is a family-friendly fundraiser with opportunities for participation for all ages and levels, with scenic routes of 25km, 50km and 100km, and a shorter, 6km family route for littler peddlers to participate. A Little Wheelers activity will take place in the Park for the youngest, not-quite-peddlers.

Click here for more information, to register, or to sponsor a rider.

A YANA Birth Story – Comox Valley

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – April 26, 2019

YANA legacy expands with creation of Denman Hornby Connector

YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a community organization offering help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical services for their children. Our purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation. Regardless of the location, the names or the circumstances, YANA is there. The overwhelming gratitude expressed by the families is always the same. The relief of stress over finances and accommodations allows parents and caregivers the time and energy needed to help their babies grow and thrive in those crucial early days.

This YANA birth story starts over three years ago with the inception of a brand new YANA support program.

Early 2016 – Marcie Dumais, then executive director of YANA, begins discussing the unique situation for pregnant Denman/Hornby moms with Lori Nawrot, executive director of the Hornby and Denman Community Health Care Society. Due to the remote aspect of the islands and challenges related to accessibility, local doctors and midwives make a decision that requires pregnant moms to be off the islands and close to the hospital two-to-three weeks prior to their due date. Lori wonders if there is a role that YANA can play to mitigate the financial burden of these families. Marcie takes the situation back to the YANA board and they develop a plan.

June 1, 2016 – Several ideas and discussions take place and the “Denman Hornby Connector” becomes a reality as a pilot program.

July 6, 2017 – The YANA board approves the program as an ongoing service to Denman and Hornby residents.

February 26, 2018 – YANA receives confirmation that the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island (CHFVI) will provide a grant to support the Denman Hornby Connector. Current YANA executive director Kelly Barnie talks about the program and the impact of the grant.

“The program helps cover accommodation expenses for island families during their time away from home due to the birth of a child, pregnancy complications or a child’s admission to hospital. We’re so grateful for the generous support from the CHFVI. The remote healthcare reality and extra costs can leave expectant mothers and sick children very vulnerable without this kind of support. This program significantly reduces stress for families.”

Summer 2017 – Beth leaves her family in Hamilton, Ontario, to work for a couple of months at the Co-op on Hornby Island. She has no idea her life is about to change dramatically. She, like most people who visit Hornby, falls in love with it. She also falls in love with Zack and decides to stay for good, beginning a beautiful island life together.

Summer 2018 – Beth and Zack decide to start a family. They excitedly share the news with their families that they’ll be welcoming a baby next spring.

Winter 2019 – Learning of the program from a friend who used YANA’s Denman Hornby Connector, Beth begins her application and starts researching Comox Valley accommodations. They’re looking for a place where their fur baby Murphy can join them, so Beth works hard to narrow the search and finds a great place in Courtenay.

March 6, 2019 – Beth is relieved that so far everything has gone smoothly and she’s not anticipating any complications for her delivery. Beth contacts Kelly at YANA about her upcoming stay. She sends in her completed application along with the required documentation the same day. Everything is in perfect order and the maximum grant of $1,000 to assist with the cost of the accommodation is approved immediately.

March 18, 2019 – Beth and Zack are two weeks away from their relocation date, so YANA provides their funding via e-transfer.

March 31, 2019 – Beth and Zack leave Hornby Island and move into the Airbnb in Courtenay.

April 13, 2019 – Beth’s due date is today. The day comes and goes with no sign of baby.

April 15, 2019 – Kelly checks in and learns that Beth’s labour has begun.

April 16, 2019 – “Baby Girl Bruszkowski” is born at 3:19 p.m. via c-section. She’s seven pounds, 11 ounces and mom and baby are doing great. At the time of article submission, yet-to-be-named baby girl, and proud new parents Zack and Beth are excited to return home to their island paradise.

“YANA’s help was wonderful,” said Beth. “It would have been very difficult to afford to stay close to the hospital without their assistance. Thank you YANA!”

Click here for more information about the Denman Hornby Connector.

A YANA Birth Story – Nanaimo

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – April 19, 2019

YANA a blessing for Michaela, Harley, and Baby Violet

Every YANA birth story is unique, with one common thread – the support never changes. The community is behind every birth, and any out-of-town follow up appointments or treatments required.

YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a community organization offering help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical services for their children. Our purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation. Regardless of the location, the names or the circumstances, YANA is there. The overwhelming gratitude expressed by the families is always the same. The relief of stress over finances and accommodations allows parents and caregivers the time and energy needed to help their babies grow and thrive in those crucial early days.

This YANA birth story starts, as many of them do, with a pregnant mom being transferred to a hospital outside of our community that is better equipped to handle complications.

November 18, 2018 – Michaela is in labour, six weeks before baby is due. Nurses here tell her she will need to be transferred to Nanaimo Regional Hospital, the closest hospital with a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Michaela is handed an envelope from YANA containing emergency funds and a letter inviting her to contact them for further assistance.

November 19, 2018 – Weighing 5 lb 4 oz , Violet Tammy Robillard is born by caesarean at 12:30 am.

November 21, 2018 – YANA is contacted by a hospital social worker and first contact is made by mom Michaela. YANA arranges initial travel funding from Nov. 18 to Dec. 3 and learns that Violet’s mom and her dad Harley are staying bedside at the hospital. Discussion is started about accommodations for them if Violet has to stay in hospital. Since Michaela and Harley are in Nanaimo without a vehicle, YANA’s executive director, Kelly Barnie, begins investigating Airbnb options that are walking distance to the hospital.

Michaela emails Kelly and says “I received the e-transfer and want to thank you all so much from the bottom of our hearts. With my spouse missing so much work we have been very concerned on how we are going to get by and this lifts a huge weight off our shoulders. I’m overwhelmed with joy. Thank you so much again.”

Kelly responds, “We are so happy to help. This is exactly what makes YANA so amazing – it’s all about people getting behind one another without fail when they need it most. I’m so grateful every day that I have the honour of being the steward of the unbelievable generosity in this community.”

November 22, 2018 – Michaela receives information from Kelly about the private “YANA Connects” Facebook group for YANA families. Noting how tough it is not to have family nearby at this time, Michaela immediately sends her request to join the online support network and is welcomed to the group the same day.

November 28, 2018 – Michaela and Harley move into the Airbnb while Violet stays in hospital until she is able to feed on her own without the use of the NG (Nasogastric) tube. They hope it will be only a week or two, but Kelly assures them YANA will extend the booking and funding until whenever Violet is able to come home. Michaela is very emotional about leaving Violet at the hospital but is extremely grateful to be nearby at the accommodations YANA provided. They are also very happy to have a place with a kitchen after nearly two weeks of mainly hospital food!

November 30, 2018 – Violet is making great strides, but still needs the NG tube. Doctors say she will need to stay a while longer. Michaela contacts Kelly with the update so Kelly provides additional travel funding, extends the accommodations and wishes them a snuggly weekend of awake, alert, tummy filling feedings.

December 7, 2018 – Michaela and Harley are ecstatic to report that they are now back home with Violet. They share their heartfelt appreciation. “We cannot thank you guys enough for everything, we are so incredibly grateful. I don’t know how we would have gotten through this without YANA!”

For more information on the YANA Connects peer support group for current and past families, visit https://www.yanacomoxvalley.com/get-support/yana-connects/

***

Another way to help YANA, and perhaps win big, is to purchase a Valley Vonka chocolate bar (or two) at participating dealers, while quantities last.

Contained within the packaging of five Valley Vonka chocolate bars are the coveted “golden tickets,” to be redeemed for some incredible prizes.

Valley Vonka chocolate bars are available at:

Courtney & Anglin Real Estate Group

The Old House Hotel & Spa

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa

Bomback & Co

Mackenzie Gartside & Assoc.

Courtenay Return-It Depot

Pilon Tool Rentals

Living Room Pharmacy

Canadian Tire #350

Margot R Rutherford Notary

The Park (Formerly Longlands Golf Course)

Brian McLean Chevrolet Buick

and of course the YANA office!

A YANA Birth Story – Victoria

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – April 13, 2019

YANA there every step of the way for Ashley and Remy

Although each YANA birth story is different, they are all the same in that the support never changes. The community is behind every birth, and any out-of-town follow up appointments or treatments required.

YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a community organization offering help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical services for their children. Our purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation. Regardless of the location, the names or the circumstances, YANA is there. The overwhelming gratitude expressed by the families is always the same. The relief of stress over finances and accommodations allows parents and caregivers the time and energy needed to help their babies grow and thrive in those crucial early days.

Here is Ashley’s story:

May 5, 2018 – After her doctor urges her to call YANA, Ashley makes her first call to advise of her high-risk pregnancy. Her baby is due June 10 and the ultrasound indicated a cleft palate, so she will need to deliver in Victoria. YANA immediately arranges for travel funding starting on May 27 and books two-to-three weeks of accommodation at Jeneece Place.

“Jeneece Place is always our first choice for accommodation in Victoria,” YANA executive director Kelly Barnie explains. “It is an amazing facility, funded by Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island. It’s a home away from home right on the grounds of Victoria General Hospital and is run by the most incredible team.”

May 30, 2018 – At 8 pounds even, Baby Remy is born at Victoria General!

June 8, 2018 – Remy is back at home after a whirlwind first week of life. Ashley connects with YANA to arrange a return trip to Victoria for the cleft palate clinic July 17. YANA provides travel funds for the required three-day trip and covers costs at Jeneece Place once again.

August 2, 2018 – Ashley contacts YANA to make arrangements Remy’s lip repair surgery trip September 24–27. Again, medical verification is received, funding is provided and the Jeneece Place reservation is made.

Oct 9, 2018 and Feb 12, 2019 – Travelling each time with Remy’s three-year-old big sister Olivia, and either their dad Takeshi or grandma Sandra, YANA provides Ashley and her family with travel funding and accommodations for two follow-up trips.

March 24 and April 9, 2019 – Remy has his pre-op appointment, major cleft palate surgery and post-op follow up visit. The surgery is a success and Remy is recovering well. YANA provides funding and the Jeneece Place staff welcome this much-loved family back with open arms.

YANA is there for Comox Valley families any time a child or a pregnant mother needs to travel for medical reasons. There are no questions asked. Only appointment verification is needed. Since his birth almost a year ago, Ashley and Remy have travelled to Victoria for his care seven times, spending 20 days away from home. They are hopeful that this most recent trip will be his last for a while, but know that YANA will support Remy whenever needed throughout his childhood.

Ashley cannot stress enough how important it is to have a place to ‘fall’ that will be able to catch and comfort you.

“That’s what YANA has been for us,” she explains. “From the beginning, I knew I didn’t have anything to worry about except Remy and his recovery from his surgeries. The care that YANA provided was seamless. Kelly was always compassionate and caring. The communications were always clear. I feel nothing but love and gratitude for YANA.”

For more information or to donate, visit yanacomoxvalley.com.

***

Another way to help YANA, and perhaps win big, is to purchase a Valley Vonka chocolate bar (or two) at participating dealers, while quantities last.

Contained within the packaging of five Valley Vonka chocolate bars are the coveted “golden tickets,” to be redeemed for some incredible prizes.

Valley Vonka chocolate bars are available at:

Courtney & Anglin Real Estate Group

The Old House Hotel & Spa

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa

Bomback & Co

Mackenzie Gartside & Assoc.

Courtenay Return-It Depot

Pilon Tool Rentals

Living Room Pharmacy

Canadian Tire #350

Margot R Rutherford Notary

The Park (Formerly Longlands Golf Course)

Brian McLean Chevrolet Buick

and of course the YANA office!