Meeting the people that the Jumpstart program helps, was enough motivation for Leduc resident, Rachel Yeung, to push herself on the 2,500 km bike trek during the 2014 Jumpstart Pedal for Kids event last month.
Yeung and 70 other riders biked 500 kms a day from Ottawa, Ont. to Quebec City, QC to raise money and awareness of the Nation Jumpstart program. Jumpstart provides subsidies to children to offset the costs of athletic fees and equipment in an effort to help everyone who wants to participate in athletics to have an opportunity to.
“Everywhere we went, we met people,” said Yeung. “It’s tough in Leduc because you don’t really meet the people who are benefiting from this, but to meet some of the kids on the trip and their parents really brings home the impact this program has on communities.”
Yeung raised around $7,000 herself and all of that money will stay in Leduc, directly funding children as administrative costs for the program are picked up by the national chapter. With each child being able to apply for up to $300 twice a year, that’s 23 area kids who will be able to participate in sports.
Yeung noted that on average, each child receives $200, making it possible for as many as 35 children to benefit annually.
“It’s not a lot of money, but it’s getting 35 kids active,” she said.
Having met some of the beneficiaries of the program, Yeung, who has been a long-time advocate of the program in Leduc, said it will change how she promotes the program in the future. “There’s lots of opportunities to share Leduc’s stories and highlight how this program benefits kids,” she said.
Along with a drive to promote the program, Yeung and several other riders came home with colds.
“I got a cold during the ride,” she said, “and I’ve been sniffling ever since. “Quite a few of us were sick.”
Cycling in 30 km/hour winds, Yeung said she did have to buy winter riding gear, as it was much colder in Ontario than when she left Alberta, September 14.
Despite the cold and the weather, the cyclists pushed and encouraged each other along the way, never leaving a rider behind. “Five hundred kilometers is not something that I individually could have completed without all the other riders. There were mornings that I wanted to quit and take a shuttle, because of the wind or the cold or the weather, but we each took turns allowing the suffering riders to buckle down in the middle of the group to get a break, and even assisted in pushing others up the hill. Thanks to cross-fit coaching, I have mastered positively encouraging others on the hill and hiding the pain face,” she said.
Yeung was also inspired to keep going by one rider who biked the entire distance with only one leg.
“It`s individuals like him who make you mentally push on throughout the day up the hills, in 30 km/hour winds and distance. Tim was an amazing mentor, and a great companion along the ride.”
But it wasn’t all hard and dreary. Yeung is among the rare few who can say she biked on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. “I don’t think they allow a lot of people to do that.”
She was also taken by the scenery in the area and the support and cheers of people as they made their way through a number of communities, “The ending at the Quebec Leg grounds where we were greeted by so many supporters, children and dignitaries, and the feeling the ride was completed, and we had all collectively pushed, encouraged, drafted and yelled at each other at some point (was a highlight).”
By the end of the ride, this year’s Pedal for Kids event raised around $689,000. “I cannot thank all my supporters enough for providing me this opportunity of a lifetime to participate in this, and I hope that I will be able to join in on this event again in 2015, (be it a bit more prepared.”)