When the hills got hard, Raida Bolton turned to her dad for encouragement.
A photograph of her dad perched on the crossbar of her bike provided the extra boost Bolton needed as she pedalled throughout the Saanich Inlet, Cowichan Valley and Salt Spring Island last weekend, as part of the seventh annual Cycle of Life Tour.
The 200km bike tour, which had around 100 riders from across Vancouver Island, raised funds and awareness for hospices on the Island.
Bolton, who participated in the ride for the first time on the Comox Valley Cyclepaths team, raised the most funds - $18,192 - of any rider on the Island.
“When I was chatting with people (raising funds), it was much easier because I have experience with hospice, so it helps when asking people to donate,” she explained.
Bolton said a few years ago, her father entered hospice care in Comox, and she said the support and care she received from the Comox Valley Hospice Society left a lasting impression.
“They are just so great; I always said that if I was going to volunteer somewhere, I would volunteer at hospice. When I heard about the ride, I thought that’s my way of giving back. I’m a runner, not a rider, so the ride was a challenge to myself physically and also a way for me to step out of my comfort zone.”
This year, cyclists on the tour raised a combined total of $276,000 - nearly $42,000 for the Comox Valley.
“The team we had this year was always just so passionate,” noted Terri Odeneal, executive director of the CVHS, who said the team really came together in March and have been at various fundraisers and events in the community raising awareness.
Odeneal said funds raised will go to support clinical care.
CVHS president Paula Horky added funds raised from the ride - both this year and past ones - help more than 1,200 people each year have the end-of-life care that matters most to them - at home, in hospice or in hospital.
“We all have to use hospice care at some point; it’s nice to know it’s there when you need it.”
There were 11 members - and a team cheerleader - on the Cyclepaths team this year, and Bolton said not only were spirits raised throughout the Valley as the team participated in fundraising events, but throughout the ride as well.
“The time and energy that went into it was really great, and we had a great mix of people. We had health care workers, a chiropractor, a doctor, a first responder, city workers and community folks on our team.”
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Odeneal noted the partnership between Comox Valley Hospice, Golden Life Management Corp. and Island Health is progressing well.
In January, Island Health announced that Golden Life Management will build and operate a new long-term care facility in the Comox Valley, which will have 212 units, six of which will be hospice beds.
The four hospice beds will move from The Views at St. Joseph’s to the new facility.
Landon Elliott, chief marketing officer for Golden Life said groundbreaking for the building - set near the intersection of Cliffe Avenue and 29th Street in south Courtenay - is set for the coming months.
In addition to the hospice beds, there will be 78 independent living suites, eight penthouse condos and 120 long-term care units (including 16 Level 3 dementia units).
Island Health anticipates the beds to be occupied by 2020.