A huge thank-you to the 600 cyclists, 175 volunteers, and to all donors and sponsors who contributed to the 2018 Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride. Together we raised $70,000 which will go to Comox Valley families with children who need medical care away from home. Click here for a full look at all contributors. Photo credits: Gordon Ross Photography
By Jolene Rudisuela with photographs from Sam Patterson, originally published in the Comox Valley Record on August 20, 2018
Six hundred cyclists hit the pavement on Sunday, Aug. 19 for the sixth annual Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride.
At their last count, the ride has once again surpassed You Are Not Alone’s fundraising goal of $50,000, but YANA executive director Marcie Dumais said the total is still likely to go up.
“At this point we’re at $58,000 which is so wonderful – we’re just thrilled,” she said. “But I suspect once we tally in those funds [that came in at the event]… we could be getting into close to last year’s total which was $62,000.”
The sold-out ride catered to all ages with a 25 kilometre, 50 km or 100 km ride. There was also a 6 km family route and a Little Wheelers activity for younger kids.
Each route began and ended at the Comox Marina Park.
“It’s a real tangible spirit when they come through the finish line,” said Dumais. “There’s that proud feeling of accomplishment that’s paired with doing something good for the community.”
According to Dumais, YANA would not exist without help from the community and it is events like this that allow the organization to continue supporting families in need. The funds raised go directly to providing accommodations and monetary aid to families and pregnant women who need to travel for medical reasons.
Some children and families who have been helped by YANA were at the finish line on Saturday, cheering on cyclists as they finished their race, and giving out medals to all the riders.
“They do that because they want to show their gratitude as well, so that makes it really special,” said Dumais.
The ride was put on thanks to the help of 175 volunteers who did everything from serving food, directing traffic, and even entertaining on stage. Dumais said though they get new helpers every year, over half their volunteers keep coming back.
“Obviously [the ride is] important for the fundraising, but the community spirit that surrounds the event is really what YANA’s all about,” said Dumais.
According to its website, the organization needs to raise approximately $312,000 each year to continue supporting families. In the past six years, the ride has raised over a quarter of a million dollars.
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
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.”
Longtime YANA Supporter
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
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.”
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.
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!
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!
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.
Looks like a great fit!
We don’t have a torch to pass but we do have a well-loved shirt and we’re thrilled Deanne McRae will be wearing it and joining YANA as our new Community Relations Coordinator.
Deanne and Ocean Varney will work together for a couple weeks with Deanne starting in her full capacity at the end of May.
Welcome, Deanne! We’re so pleased you’re part of our team.
Second annual fundraiser for YANA a resounding success
From left, Comox Valley Record publisher Keith Currie, YANA (You Are Not Alone) community relations co-ordinator Ocean Varney, Bill Anglin, representing Valley Vonka title sponsor Courtney & Anglin Realty, YANA executive director Marcie Dumais, and Black Press director of product development Chrissie Bowker, celebrate the $8,079.75 raised in this year’s Valley Vonka. Photo by Terry Farrell
Friday, May 11 was a night of celebration, at a private party hosted by Hot Chocolates, in downtown Courtenay. The occasion? The prize presentations at the second annual Valley Vonka & the Hot Chocolate Factory, presented by The Comox Valley Record and Courtney & Anglin Realty in partnership with Hot Chocolates, Sure Copy, and Isla Designs.
Five lucky participants, who bought specially designed (by Hot Chocolates, of course) Valley Vonka chocolate bars found “Golden Tickets” inside the wrapping. Those tickets qualified the winner for one of five fantastic prizes.
The promotion was all in the name of one of the Comox Valley’s most recognized charities: You Are Not Alone (YANA) – a community organization that offers financial and accommodation assistance to Comox Valley families who need to travel to access medical treatment for their children.
The prizes included a family pack of gold season tickets (two adult, two children) courtesy Mount Washington Alpine Resort, as well as getaway packages from Crown Isle Resort & Golf Community, Old House Hotel & Spa, Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa, and Ucluelet’s Black Rock Oceanfront Resort.
In addition to the Golden Ticket prizes, there was also a children’s colouring contest that ran concurrently. More than 200 entries were received and judges had a most difficult time selecting two winners, who each received a year’s supply of chocolate, from Hot Chocolates.
The biggest winner of the promotion was YANA, as representatives from the charity were presented with a cheque in the amount of $8,079.75.
Thanks to everyone who participated by either buying a Valley Vonka chocolate bar, or by entering the colouring contest.
Hot Chocolates owner Jorden Marshall and manager Michele Henry present the Valley Vonka colouring contest winners Grace Stegall and Louis MacDonald-Ward with their prizes: a year’s supply of chocolate from Hot Chocolates! Grace, 10, won the 6-12-year-old category, while Louis, 4, won the five-years-and-under age category. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Local mom, Samantha Ferguson, understands well the intensity of diagnosis and treatment of childhood leukemia. In 2016, at the age of seven, her son Kai was diagnosed. Two and a half years later in the fifth stage of treatment, Kai still takes oral chemotherapy daily, special antibiotics on weekends, monthly visits out-of-town for intravenous chemotherapy and quarterly trips to BC Children’s Hospital for painful chemotherapy injections.
Kai’s medical journey has been a long one and is not over. YANA has been with his family from the beginning.
“From the moment we left by helicopter from Comox to Children’s and I was handed a YANA envelope,” explains Ferguson, “We barely understood what was happening and just how much support we would need from our community.”
Lifetime Union Bay resident Joanne Tarnowski knew she was very ill when she came into the YANA office in 2016, around the time of Kai’s diagnosis, to discuss ways she could contribute. While Joanne wasn’t aware of Kai’s family sharing such a similar path to her own, she knew the challenges of being away from home with a sick child and wanted to do something significant for her community.
“My husband and I lived in Union Bay all our lives,” explained Joanne. “We married in 1958, in 1965 we bought an oyster business and started working it together.” Joanne described those early years as a lot of hard work but nothing compared to the challenge that came when her daughter got sick at two years of age.
“When Janet got sick everything happened so quickly. We went from hospital emergency here, to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.”
Janet’s illness would culminate in a long hospital stay and an operation.
“At that time we didn’t have much money or help,” states Joanne. “There was no YANA then. It was a scary time and a lonely time.”
Janet recovered and eventually thrived and started her own family. In 1995, Janet and her husband, Bruce, welcomed their son, Dallas. When Dallas was six he was diagnosed with leukemia.
“We were floored,” Janet remembers. “The helplessness, the anxiety, it’s like time stopped. In that moment I understood what my own mother had gone through.”
Janet and Bruce began the heart wrenching journey of caring for their child through his intense treatment, experiencing much of the same stress that Kai’s parents face.
“In the beginning we made a promise; we would tell Dallas every day how much he was loved; he would never be left alone,” says Janet. They juggled work, care of their youngest son, and took shifts at the hospital. “We kept our promise,” says Janet.
In 2004, Dallas finished treatment and is now a healthy young man who understands the importance of giving.
“Looking back, I don’t remember the fear or the sadness. I remember my family, being together, feeling loved and secure,” says Dallas. “We were lucky to have that, our family wants that for others.”
Donor Joanne Tarnowski born October 14, 1939 passed away March 2, 2018. Joanne and her family created an annual legacy gift to YANA with the commitment of keeping Comox Valley families, like Kai’s, together during medical treatment away from home.
Reflecting on her past, Joanne said, “You are not alone. Those words mean a lot to me. I love YANA. I always have.”
To find out more about supporting YANA through monthly, annual, or legacy gifts visit https://www.yanacomoxvalley.com/donate/