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

Cumberland will be looking to a parcel tax to cover debt for its new water system. File photo
Cumberland plans for parcel tax to cover water debt

Parcel tax review panel would take place March 22, if necessary

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
SD71 identifies eight positive cases of COVID-19 and instructs 108 people to self-isolate

The letter noted that all who have tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Geoff Garbutt takes over as City of Courtenay CAO on April 14. Photo supplied
Courtenay council selects new city CAO

A new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will be joining the City of… Continue reading

Two vehicles collided Wednesday morning north of Courtenay on the Old Island Highway. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Two-car MVA north of Courtenay

Accident took place after 7 a.m. on the Old Island Highway

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says the recent spike… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

The Port of Nanaimo has signed a 50-year-agreement with DP World around short-sea shipping operations at Duke Point Terminal. (News Bulletin file photo)
Lease ‘important first step’ in $105-million Nanaimo port expansion project

Port of Nanaimo and DP World sign 50-year shipping operations agreement for Duke Point

A BC Ferries worker out of Swartz Bay has tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Swartz Bay ferry worker confirmed to have COVID-19

Employees in direct contact with worker now isolating

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The Town of Comox will formally examine speeding within the town. Black Press file photo
Comox to examine speeding within town

Following discussions at various council meetings, Comox council will formally examine speeding… Continue reading

A male customer without a face mask is seen inside a Burnaby Canadian Tire amidst an altercation with store security and staff members. (Video/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Man arrested after allegedly punching Burnaby Canadian Tire staff over mask rule

Mounties received reports Monday of a customer having punched more than one employee

Most Read