Riders honour memory of slain Comox medic

A total of 86 cyclists rode 240 kilometres in just two days, all in an effort to preserve the humanitarian spirit of one fallen soldier.


They came, they cycled they conquered.

A total of 86 cyclists rode 240 kilometres in just two days, all in the effort of preserving the humanitarian spirit of one young man, a fallen soldier.

The Boomer’s Legacy BC Bike Ride is a staple fundraising event held annually in mid-June for the purpose of raising awareness of the good works of our men and women in uniform serving in far-off locations around the world.

Now in its fifth year, the ride raises monies through pledges and donations that fund many projects that often go unnoticed or are unheard of to the most Canadians back home in Canada.

And just why do they draw so little attention? Well, that’s just the point, the impetus to the creation of a foundation whose mission is Helping Soldiers Help Others.

It’s the story of Andrew Eykelenboom, a young Canadian Forces medic, call-sign Boomer, who witnessed day after day the hardship of the people in the communities where he served and wrote home to tell his family about it.

It can be a helpless feeling knowing there’s so little that can be done from here in this great nation built on freedom and democracy.

Not so for Maureen Eykelenboom and the friends and family who rallied behind her upon receiving the news of her son’s death at the hands of a suicide bomber just days before the end of his tour of duty.

The legacy of Boomer’s goodwill, the drive to help the people in the villages that surrounded him in Afghanistan, lived on long after the young corporal perished in 2006.

It lives in the lovingly knitted wool caps, over 300,000 made around the world today. It lives on in the random donations received weekly by unassuming citizens across Canada.

And it most certainly is alive and well in every stroke of the pedal, every curve of the road and every inch of climbing pavement that stretches between Canadian Forces Base Comox to the legislative grounds in downtown Victoria.

Not a single cyclist who committed to the event this year, just as in previous years, finished the trek without knowing exactly what they rode for and for whom. Indeed, every cyclist, both military and civilian, who donned a black and red jersey adorned with the words Boomer’s Legacy across the front and back also rode in the memory of fallen soldiers.

All 160 of them were accounted for on 86 bicycles, including Sgt. Jannick Gilbert, a Search and Rescue Technician who recently perished while on a rescue mission in Canada’s arctic region. Just as in oversees missions, the courageous efforts of our comrades are made equally here at home.

“It is so much more than raising money and building awareness,” said Maureen, Boomer’s Legacy Founder, at an emotional start of the ride. “It’s about honouring all the Andrews of our military, those men and women who gave their lives in the fight for freedom. You [cyclists] get it!”

“I was initially attracted to the concept of riding from Comox to Victoria for the physical challenge it represented,” said LCol Wayne Joy, a CF member based at 19 Wing Comox and first-time bike ride participant.

“Having never ridden more than 50 km in a single day, we were well past the 170-km mark as we headed up the Malahat. I had told myself that I would not stop, determined to get to the top, not for me, but in the memory of [two of the fallen soldiers]. It wasn’t easy but I made it.”

This year’s event also saw the return of Doug Yeo, 88, a third-time participant and long-standing supporter of the Boomer’s Legacy cause. Also a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran, Doug served as a flight navigator aboard the Mosquito during the Second World War and witnessed many sacrifice in the fight for freedom.

“I was able to come home to my parents,” commented Yeo, reflecting on his mission during the war. “Boomer was able to so I feel I owe him something.”

The 2012 Boomer’s BC Ride is perhaps the most successful to date, raising approximately $50,000 in pledges and donations. The bar is now set for the first National Capital Region Ride on Aug. 25, and the second annual Nova Scotia Ride on Sept. 1.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Village of Cumberland is anticipating a municipal tax hike of 4.95 per cent for the coming year. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland expects tax hike of 4.95 per cent

Budget talks are still preliminary as bylaw has to go through council

This is what the area near Lewis Park looked like during flooding in November 2009. File photo
Grant helps Comox Valley Regional District address rising sea level, storm surges

The Comox Valley Regional District, in partnership with K’ómoks First Nation, has… Continue reading

Vanier student Tristan Rendell is helping to organize the discussion on COVID-19 for young people. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Students to talk COVID on Zoom Nov. 4

Young people 12-29 can sign up for virtual discussion

Julia Strobach. File Photo
Nearing seventh anniversary, Valley RCMP continue search for Julia Strobach

“We know that someone has information that will help us locate her.”

Comox author Loraine Hartley, with a few copies of her debut novel, “My Delightfully Dysfunctional Family.” Photo supplied
Comox author pens novel about life in a blended family

Generally speaking, authors write their books, then determine a title. But not… Continue reading

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are looking for information about William Mack, last seen in Duncan on Oct. 28. (File photo)
Police searching for missing man last seen near Duncan

William Mack, 72, was seen on Gibbins Road on Oct. 28

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Most Read