Jumpstart program helping youth to get involved in physical activity

Courtenay Canadian Tire dealer Bert Heeringa and his fellow Canadian Tire Jumpstart Pedal for Kids Cycling Tour riders have raised enough money to help more than 2,000 children sign up for sports and activities.

CANADIAN TIRE Jumpstart presents Activity Kits to the Comox Valley Boys and Girls Club.

CANADIAN TIRE Jumpstart presents Activity Kits to the Comox Valley Boys and Girls Club.

Courtenay Canadian Tire dealer Bert Heeringa and his fellow Canadian Tire Jumpstart Pedal for Kids Cycling Tour riders have raised enough money to help more than 2,000 children sign up for sports and activities.The five-day, 500-kilometre Canadian Tire Jumpstart Pedal for Kids Cycling Tour wrapped up Sunday in Vancouver. As of Monday, it had surpassed its $200,000 goal and raised $204,161 for Jumpstart, a community-based charitable program that helps children aged four to 18 participate in organized sports and recreation. One of the 22 riders, Michael Strachan, the senior vice-president of merchandising at Mark’s Work Wearhouse in Calgary, raised $100,000 himself.Canadian Tire Jumpstart president Dan Thompson says the average cost to support a child for an eight-week sports program is $100, so this cycling tour has a huge impact all across the country.One in three Canadian families cannot afford to put their child in after-school sports activities, according to Thompson.Last year, Jumpstart helped 98,000 children and distributed $10.2 million across Canada, and the organization helped 13,800 children in B.C.Every dollar raised by Heeringa during the Pedal for Kids ride will stay in the Comox Valley, explained Thompson.”Bert’s been just an amazing Jumpstart supporter,” he said. “They have a very strong chapter in Courtenay.”Throughout the Pedal for Kids tour, the riders gave away 10 Activity Kits filled with a wide variety of sports equipment — including two to the Comox Valley Boys and Girls Club when the riders came through the Valley Thursday evening.”They got into a community and help, we say, an average of 20 kids, and we say it goes on and on,” said Carolyn Solby, Canadian Tire’s director of marketing and communications in Toronto, who was one of the 22 riders on the tour.Canadian Tire Financial Services holds a fundraising event for Jumpstart every year, and this year, they held a gala dinner and raised $500,000 — enough money so that one kit can go to every community in Canada with a Canadian Tire store.The kits are worth an average of $1,000 each, and Jumpstart plans to donate 500 Activity Kits across the country. Thompson is always thrilled to make the presentations.”It’s very emotional to me to come to communities right across Canada and especially on the Island and talk to people and, unsolicited, have people say how important it is,” he said. “We’re helping deliver life skills in people and give them the opportunity to learn the value of sport and recreation. That’s really exciting.”Besides bringing sporting equipment to children and youth in each community through which it passed, the Pedal for Kids tour brought one family together to honour a husband and father and raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters through Jumpstart.Team Legacy — Reta Honour of Mill Bay, her children  Melissa, Greg and Stephanie who live in Toronto and Greg’s girlfriend Nikki Halliwell — did the ride for their father, a Canadian Tire dealer who passed away six years ago and was very involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters.”I guess the best part is you realize how much impact our father had on everybody because people are so willing to donate to the cause,” said Greg.”It just goes to show the impact a person can have through his store,” agreed Melissa, noting their father’s former employees have been sending them e-mails to say they’re so glad the family is doing this ride and telling them how well their father treated them. “It’s been pretty heartwarming.”Their father was very involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters everywhere they lived, but particularly in Miramichi, N.B., so Team Legacy is donating the money they raise to Big Brothers Big Sisters in Miramichi through Jumpstart, explained Melissa.All three Honour siblings have also volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters.As a team, the Honours set a goal to raise $15,000, and they’ve surpassed that goal by more than $1,000.During the Pedal for Kids tour, the riders stopped in Duncan, which was the Honours’ father’s last store.While in Duncan, Team Legacy made a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters, and they had a chance to see some of their father’s old staff.”It was a great chance to see some of (the staff) again and touch base with them,” said Stephanie. “It was pretty special too because a lot of them weren’t even working that day, and they came in anyways to see us. It was great.”The Honours are really happy to get this chance to spend time together”It’s really nice to have the kids on the Island and do the bike tour with them,” said Reta.Greg says he and his sisters are all very proud of their mother for doing the ride.”Everyone says ‘your father would be so proud of you,’ and I think the same,” noted Melissa. “It’s a nice thought.”writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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