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.
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.
The Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride returns to the Comox Valley on Sunday August 20.
The bike ride is a fundraiser for YANA and provides a fun, challenging and unique ride through the beautiful Comox Valley. There are routes for cyclists of all ages and ability, choose from a 6km, 25km, 50km or 100km ride.
“We are stepping it up this year and doing the 25km ride,” shares Adam Duncan “in the past, we’ve done the 6km ride, which was easy and laid back for our family. Our kids are getting older and wanted to do the longer ride. We also have friends that are riding the 25km, so we’ll all just ride together.”
All participants will receive a congratulatory medal, discounts at Simon’s Cycles and enjoy a post-ride lunch with music from Jilli Martini. Thanks to the generous support of lead sponsor Dr. Andreas Conradi, cyclists registered before July 21st will receive a free Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride t-shirt.
Duncan says, “The ride is a lot of fun for our kids. They get a race number and their own t-shirt, which they really like. The lunch is great and the atmosphere at the park, pre-and post-ride, is always fun. We ride because YANA is a great organization that helps families during their most vulnerable moments. Without YANA, the Comox Valley wouldn’t be the place it is to live.”
This year Air Canada is encouraging participants to fundraise in a big way. For every $100 raised in pledges riders are entered to win two return tickets for travel to any Air Canada scheduled destination in North America, a prize valued at $2,800.
Over 150 volunteers and a peleton of sponsors provide their support to cover event expenses, which ensures that all money raised goes directly to local families.
Of course none of it would be possible without Simon’s Cycles. Co-owner Patti Fletcher shares her motivation, “All of us at Simon’s think it’s wonderful that by encouraging people to ride their bikes we are able to support Comox Valley families when they need it the most. This ride raises thousands of dollars for YANA each year, money that goes directly to local families, what could be better than that?”
YANA is a registered charity available to Comox Valley families who need to travel for the medical care of a child under 19 or a pregnant mother. YANA offers accommodation and provides funding to help with expenses while families are away from home.
Sandra Williams founded YANA in 1986 after suffering the emotional and financial devastation which resulted from her daughter’s diagnosis of congenital heart failure and lengthy medical treatment in Vancouver. Williams and her family committed to building an organization that ensured Comox Valley families would have the support of their community during such stressful circumstances. YANA is proud to be the steward of Williams’ legacy and assists with over 400 medical trips each year, supporting hundreds of children and families.
“The Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride is all about the love of riding, the love of community and bringing that together. If you want to have fun and also do something active and good for your community join us on August 20,” explains YANA’s Executive Director, Marcie Dumais.
For more information or to register for the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride, visit yanacomoxvalley.com.
There are so many reasons to register early:
- Complimentary souvenir t-shirt courtesy of top sponsor, Dr. Andreas Conradi. Register before July 21.
- Invitation to participate in fun pre-event activities including a bike mechanics workshop on June 22, bike security registration session on June 24 and a training ride on July 15.
- Early registration ensures you have the opportunity to participate. The ride registration site will be open until August 18 or until such time as 600 cyclists have registered. No registration will be accepted on ride day.
- Time to fundraise so that you can be entered into the draw to win two return tickets for travel to any Air Canada scheduled destination in North America including Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean and select sun destinations, a prized valued at $2,800. For each $100 raised, riders are entered to win!
- The satisfaction of ticking it off your to-do list! Good for your health, good for the community!
For more information about all of these opportunities or to register, click here.
Spring is here, it’s time to dust off your bike and get back on it! Register early and receive a free souvenir shirt courtesy of Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride sponsor, Dr. Conradi. Join us!
On August 7, 2008, Arlene Juby received a phone call from her daughter asking her to come immediately to the hospital in Victoria. Her daughter and her granddaughter were travelling back from a trip to the mainland, via Victoria, and though Arlene did not know why she was needed so urgently, she sensed the seriousness of the situation instantly.
That same evening Arlene’s granddaughter, Ruby, was air-lifted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver with a diagnosis of leukemia.
“She was six years, two months, and two weeks old,” Arlene recalls, remembering feeling numb. That night she wrote in a journal, something she hadn’t done before. “This is something that happens to other people, not us,” she composed, “but it has happened.”
There would be many more nights for Ruby, for Arlene, and for their family. Almost a year at Children’s Hospital and a stem cell transplant would follow.
“YANA played a significant role during that time,” says Arlene. “The YANA apartment on Oak Street had everything that was needed and the financial part was a big help. YANA kept our family together.”
After returning to the Comox Valley, Ruby continued with regular check-ups at Children’s Hospital, first every two weeks and then every few months. In November 2012, after a routine blood test, Ruby was re-admitted to Children’s, the leukemia had returned.
“She was ten years, five months, and twenty-nine days old,” says Arlene. “And we were back at square one,” explains Arlene. “Again, YANA was there. I don’t think there is anything like YANA anywhere else, it seemed sent from heaven that it was available to us, it meant everything.”
Shortly after Ruby finished her second phase of long-term treatment, Arlene made a significant donation to YANA. “I had decided that when I could help, I would. YANA was at the top of my list.”
Since then Arlene has been a monthly donor, supporting YANA through Canada Helps, an on-line giving platform for non-profits.
“Arlene’s story reminds us of the close connection many of our donors have to the children and families we support,” says YANA Executive Director, Marcie Dumais. “We are grateful to be part of this circle of giving that ensures we are able to help when it’s needed.”
Arlene shares with relief that her granddaughter is a healthy teenager. “I can’t adequately express what YANA means to me, even after so much time has passed. It will be with me until the day I’m gone.”
To donate click here.
~ Originally published April 27, 2017 in the Comox Valley Record