Toonies for Torino

Pipestone Flyer

Jack Almond is decked out in his race finery to raise funds for both his trip to the 2013 Masters Games in Turin Italy and for the local charity Everybody Gets To Play.

    Something doesn't have to be big to make a difference. Something as little as say, a toonie, can make a big difference in a child's life, and this is exactly what Leduc resident Jack Almond is counting on.

    Jack is a very well known person around Leduc and has been involved in many organizations over the years including the Leduc Drama Society, the Arts, Cultural and Heritage Foundation, and he even won the City of Leduc's Art, Culture & Heritage Recognition Award in 2002. Another passion in Jack's life that is maybe not quite so well known, is cycling. An avid cycler for years, Jack loves to let the rubber meet the road and he regularly competes in bike races and takes part in biking fundraisers around Alberta. Just last week Jack completed the 2013 MS Bike Tour which is a 185 km, two day bike trip from Leduc to Camrose, and raised about $2,000.00 for the cause.

    So about a year and a half ago Jack was wanting to really challenge himself and decided he would finally make a long time dream become reality by competing in the Torino 2013 World Masters Games. With dedicated, intensive training and becoming eligible for the Games by being sanctioned by the Alberta Bicycling Association, earning a race license, and belonging to the Masters Assoc., Jack was well on his way to realizing his dream. The only missing piece of the puzzle was the money to make it happen.

    "This is quite an expensive sport." said Jack. "Between the specialized clothing, shoes and helmets, not to mention the bikes themselves which are incredibly pricey, you also need to have spare equipment such as extra tires, and then there's the travel costs of transporting yourself and your bike, in this case, to Italy. So sponsorship is very important."

    As Jack and his wife were discussing the trip and how much money he would need to raise to make it a reality, Jack's generous nature came to the fore and he decided that with each donation he received for his trip, he would donate a portion of it to a charity to benefit others as well. After much discussion Jack settled on the charity Everybody Gets To Play.

    "We chose this cause because we feel it's a very, very good charity and it ties in to everything we believe in." shared Jack. "All the money we raise will stay in local programs for local children. They have an excellent range of programs and obviously physical fitness is pretty important to me!" laughed Jack. 

    In figuring how to approach this double ended fundraising, Jack came up with the idea of buttons. He had a whole bunch of large buttons printed up, two to a set, with the logo "Toonies For Torino" on them and began attending trade shows and large events around town to sell them for a donation of two toonies. "Of course that is just our suggested donation amount so that one toonie goes toward the trip and the other goes to Everybody Gets To Play. But people can donate a dollar or five hundred dollars and I'll still give them a set of buttons. Maybe two sets for five hundred." said Jack with a chuckle. 

    Jack has done fairly well with his fundraising so far, managing to raise about $1,000.00 for Everybody Gets To Play. However, he still has a little way to go to finance his dream trip. "People have been fantastic donating to both this cause and myself." shared Jack. "All of the money coming in has been from individuals so far. I haven't had any corporate sponsors come forward yet and I think I am going to need that to make this trip happen." 

    With the Masters Games taking place from August 2-11 Jack would have to leave for Italy at the end of July which does not leave him a lot of time to train, race and fundraise. But knowing this determined gentleman I'm sure he will find a way. After all, he seems to be pretty good at defying certain odds. You see, to qualify for the Worlds Masters Games you must be over 35 years of age and meet all the requirements the high level of competition your sport demands. Athletes are broken into divisions of age that cover a five year span and those in that age division compete against one another. That means people 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, etc. all test their mettle against their own age group. Jack's age group? 70-74. So if there is someone who could encourage and inspire young people by showing them the benefits of maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle throughout their lives I would say Jack is one of the best examples around.

    For anyone interested in donating to Everybody Gets To Play and also helping Jack realize his dream of competing in Torino, you can drop him a line at almond1943@gmail.com. Even if you are not able to donate at this time don't be afraid to send him a word of encouragement. Those words are what will help to keep him pedalling through rain and shine toward Torino, and to help ensure that local kids always have the opportunity to play.