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Bike ride will benefit children with special needs

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Riders take part in the Moveathon Ride for KCC. (Rafal Burza photo)

A little over a year ago, the Zareinu Educational Centre and Project AIM Programs, two Jewish organizations devoted to helping children with special needs, merged to become Kayla’s Children Centre (KCC). This year, they’re experimenting with a new spin on an old event.

On Aug. 20, as many as 40 people will participate in KCC’s first-ever Muskoka Challenge Overnight Experience. It’s an offshoot of the Moveathon bike ride that’s been taking place for 21 years, as a fundraiser for Zareinu and now KCC. Participants in the Muskoka Challenge will stay overnight at Taboo Muskoka resort in Gravenhurst, Ont., before biking 135 kilometres to Camp AIM, where they will be met by a large crowd.

The event’s organizers decided to end the ride at the camp this year, so that the staff and children could show their appreciation for the riders as they cross the finish line, said Liora Sturm, KCC’s events manager.

“The one thing we’ve always known was missing was to have the riders feel the impact they were making,” she said. “So we would do things like sending videos, or sending cards, or making plaques, but we always knew that there was that aspect that was missing.”

READ: FAMILY’S DONATION WILL EXPAND PROGRAMS FOR SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS

After the merger, they finally had the ability to fulfill that goal.

“When the riders will have ridden all day, likely in the scorching heat, up and down the hills, sometimes maybe wanting to give up and then finishing this 135 kilometre ride, and then riding into the finish line at our overnight camp, and there will be hundreds of kids and staff and family and volunteers cheering them on,” said Sturm.

“It gives us a chill because we know for the first time all of our riders will feel the gratitude that we’ve been wanting to show them all of these years, but didn’t really have the logistics to do.”

Michael Mann is a graphic designer who has been a participant in the past three Moveathons. He was asked to join the organizing team, “just to see if we can kick things up a notch,” he said.

It gives us a chill because we know for the first time, all of our riders will feel the gratitude that we’ve been wanting to show them all of these years.
– Liora Sturm

“Cycling is a fun sport, it’s a fun activity. You get to clear your mind, you get to think a lot, you work hard on hills, you get the payoff on the downhill and it’s great exercise,” said Mann. “I like being able to do something I enjoy and at the same time do it in support of a cause that is worth supporting.”

Since it’s the inaugural edition of the event, Sturm said they decided to cap the number of riders at 40, although they haven’t quite reached that many as of this writing.

Each registered rider is expected to raise $3,500 for the cause. But Mann pointed out that the awareness the event raises about KCC is also valuable.

“I always found that by sending out emails and putting out requests, feelers, for this type of fundraiser, even if the person doesn’t end up giving you a donation, you’ve put the organization into the person’s mind,” he said. “I would say, even for those who struggle at it, you’re still doing a job – promoting a worthwhile organization like KCC.”

Cycling is a fun sport.
– Michael Mann

Sturm echoed his sentiment.

“We are here for anyone that needs it. So we’re asking the community to be here for us and to continue to give to the kids and provide for them and nurture them in any way they can. So if you can ride, ride. If you can donate, donate. If you can volunteer, volunteer,” she said. “We’re asking the community to support a place that is finally here in Toronto’s community – a centre for anyone with special needs.”