Next week, Courtenay Canadian Tire dealer Bert Heeringa will begin a five-day, 500-kilometre bicycle tour from Victoria to Vancouver.
Heeringa and 24 other Canadian Tire Dealers, employees and friends of the corporation will cycle 100 kilometres a day from Sept. 21 to 25 in the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Pedal for Kids Cycling Tour, which raises money for underprivileged kids so they can play organized sports.
Heeringa has been a Canadian Tire Dealer for 21 years, and before that, he worked for Canadian Tire Corporation for 10 years.
He started riding as a child but did not ride a road bike until he was 23, which was 30 years ago. He started riding again when he turned 48.
Heeringa completed his first Jumpstart ride last year. In the past five years, he has done many triathlons, from sprints to an Ironman, but not many bike-only events.
Last year, the Jumpstart Pedal for Kids Cycling Tour was held on the East Coast, and cyclists rode 1,000 kilometres in five days.
“It’s really interesting to see in the communities, we met with some of the stores where Jumpstart had made a difference to kids; they really appreciate the support and help,” said Heeringa. “In some of the smaller communities, they don’t have access to funds for supporting kids. That was a highlight. Also, riding with a group of people who were focused on making a positive difference for kids was a highlight.”
After doing the ride in the Maritimes, Heeringa “strongly suggested” there wasn’t a lot of awareness of Jumpstart on the West Coast, and this could be a good place to hold a ride.
“I think Jumpstart is such a good program, and all the money we raise goes toward the chapters,” he said. “All the money I raise stays in the Valley and helps kids around here. Last year, we got about $15,000 for the Comox Valley, so that was a substantial number of kids helped, and the local chapter really appreciated the additional funding.”
Heeringa is most looking forward to going through the various communities, meeting local Jumpstart members and getting the chance to promote Jumpstart at in the communities.
“I am a big fan of Jumpstart simply because of my personal experience as a kid and the importance organized sport played in helping me with a healthy lifestyle while providing so many invaluable life lessons,” said Heeringa. “Most people that are involved with organized sports have a positive approach to life, and I like to surround myself with positive people. I look forward to the ride, visiting the communities where Jumpstart makes a difference and riding with people that want to a difference in kids’ lives.”
Through fundraising efforts of each of the cyclists, local fundraisers and the dealer communities, the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Pedal for Kids Cycling Tour hopes to raise $200,000 to give kids a sporting chance.
One hundred per cent of all donations raised will go directly to Canadian Tire Jumpstart, a community-based charitable program that helps children aged four to 18 participate in organized sports and recreation so they can develop important life skills, self-esteem and confidence.
The ride begins Sept. 21 in Victoria, continuing to Nanaimo, Courtenay and Campbell River. The riders will cycle back to the Comox Valley and take the ferry to Powell River, then ride to Sechelt and then into Vancouver.
The riders will arrive at Mark’s Work Wearhouse in Courtenay on the evening of Sept. 22, and they will leave from the Courtenay Canadian Tire store around 8 a.m. Sept. 23.
Last year, Jumpstart had a budget for the Comox Valley of more than $35,000, which helped 330 children. Heeringa contributed $13,780 through the ride.
Since 2005, Jumpstart has helped more than 825 children in the Comox Valley and has dispersed more than $90,000 in the community, according to Heeringa.
“Jumpstart has helped a number of children throughout the Valley participate in activities throughout the Valley,” said Darcy Walters, chairperson of the local chapter. “It gives those who can’t quite afford to enrol or register the opportunity to do that.”
Jumpstart helps children register for any activity that has an aerobic component, and, locally, it has given children access to swimming, hockey, baseball, karate, cheerleading, basketball, dance and all sorts of activities, noted Walters.
To donate to Heeringa’s fundraising campaign, visit www.jumpstart.ca. All money donated to Heeringa will stay in the Comox Valley.
Visit the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Facebook page for updates on the ride, including photos and videos.