By Andrea Postal
Special to The Record
With the 2020 Comox Bike Co. YANA Ride taking on a whole new look in a socially-distanced fashion, the new format is proving to be a big win for the organization, riders, and business community.
Registration and pledge dollars are coming in strong for a fundraiser that typically brings in enough funds to cover more than half the annual accommodation costs required for Comox Valley families travelling outside of the community for medical care of children and pregnant moms. Riders are excited about the prize incentives being offered this year, which also directly give back to the Valley’s local business community hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Autumn Helme and her mother Melissa (pictured) have been YANA (You Are Not Alone) clients and avid supporters for a few years now. Autumn and her mother make weekly trips down-Island for a therapy Autumn requires, and the financial assistance YANA provides has been invaluable.
“We both love YANA so much,” said Melissa. “Whether it’s a big emergency, or just a day trip out of town for a medical appointment, it all matters, and YANA helps relieve the financial burden of the trip. I also love the win-win-win approach to the YANA Ride this year. Everyone likes a chance to win something, and it’s such a great motivation to get more donations. Local businesses have really suffered in the last few months, and it’s so great to be supporting these businesses, and helping them bounce back and thrive.”
You may have spotted Autumn and Melissa at the finish line at previous year’s YANA rides, ringing bells and handing out medals or water bottles, but this year looks different. With group gathering restrictions in place, there will be no volunteer crew, rider send-off, or post-ride celebration party in the park for the 600 riders, countless volunteers, and community members that attend this sold-out event each year. This year’s YANA Ride is a flexible and socially distanced event where riders can register by donation and choose the when, where, and what they’ll ride, anytime between Aug. 1-15. This new format has allowed for some of the newest riders to join and ride at their pace and comfort, like seven-year-old Autumn, who has signed up as a first-time rider this year.
Autumn, or “Team Razzle Dazzle”, has committed to riding for seven hours during the two-week window, one hour for each year. She only started riding her bike a few months ago, but can’t wait to use her newfound skill to support an organization that has supported her. She’s also excited about some of the great prizes up for grabs, and is hoping some ice cream from a local shop might be in her prize-winning future. And if ice cream and YANA support wasn’t enough, an anonymous donor has stepped up to match Autumn’s pledges up to $1,000 for YANA.
Local business partnerships are at the core of these fundraising events, and play an essential role through sponsorship and prize donation.
“We don’t have the hard costs of a physical event, of course, this year, so we made the choice to direct some of those sponsorship funds right back into the local economy,” said YANA executive director Kelly Barnie. “By using some of our sponsor dollars to purchase gift cards from these businesses, we’re getting behind those that have always found a way to be there for us, and we’re rewarding riders for setting and reaching some pretty awesome fundraising goals at the same time.”
Whether you’re a road cyclist, a mountain biker, or you enjoy a slow cruise around town, this year’s ride is for you and it isn’t too late to register yourself or a team. To sign up, donate to a rider, or get more info on this year’s event, visit www.yanacomoxvalley.com