‘Ride for Memories’ cruises highway to success

Duane Hicks

Blessed with weather far more hospitable than the last couple of years, the local Alzheimer Society’s seventh-annual “Ride for Memories” on Saturday raised $34,700—with more money still coming in.
About 140 pledged riders participated in this year’s ride, which culminated with a gathering in Red Lake.
“The weather was absolutely fantastic,” organizer Margaret Schonewille, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of the Kenora-Rainy River District, said of the event, which has been plagued by poor weather the past few years.
“People didn’t arrive all wet and cold,” she noted. “Everyone arrived [in Red Lake] in wonderful spirits.”
The four starting locations were Kenora, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, and Fort Frances.
About 25 riders on 19 bikes left from The Harbourage here shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday
They stopped at the Royal Canadian Legion in Dryden for lunch before taking Highway 105 to Ear Falls and then on to Red Lake.
After an OPP-led tour of Red Lake and Balmertown, the group enjoyed a steak dinner at the local Legion.
“It was a great day. We had a lot of support along the way,” noted Schonewille. “Some of the community members in Ear Falls had cookies and soft drinks and coffee ready for the riders when they came [there].
“The ladies auxiliary from the Dryden Legion had a wonderful lunch ready . . . and the steak dinner [in Red Lake] was also very good.
“We had corn donated by Donna Lowey [of Lowey’s Greenhouses here],” Schonewille added. “It was the best corn a lot of people had had in a long time.
“Everything was perfect,” she enthused.
Bill Naturkach, president of the local Alzheimer Society’s board of directors, has been a participant in several of the previous “Ride for Memories” events.
He said wanted to do it again to support a worthwhile cause while simultaneously taking an enjoyable ride within the region.
“It’s a good way to meet up with old friends,” he noted Saturday morning. “I look forward to meeting some of my buddies from Sioux Lookout and Kenora later today, and have a good time.”
Naturkach said the “Ride for Memories” is a consistently successful fundraiser each year, and attributed at least part of that success to increased awareness and the fact Alzheimer’s disease touches many people.
“Unfortunately, I think the disease is growing so fast and so quickly, it’s affecting more of the population every day,” he remarked.
“It’s a terrible disease, and hopefully we’ll see some breakthroughs very, very soon on the science side of trying to deal with it.
“I have learned a whole lot since I have been on the board—about the disease and the people that are affected by it,” added Naturkach. “You talk to anybody, and somebody knows somebody affected by it.
And everybody, of course, is compassionate—it’s a hell of a thing.”
Health-care worker Kevin Kennedy of Pinewood, who’s ridden in nearly every one of the “Ride for Memories” to date, raised an impressive $4,232 for what he called “an excellent cause.”
He noted he’s worked with people who are affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s—some of whom have since passed on and some who are in long-term care.
Kennedy added he had an uncle with Alzheimer’s, and more
recently, a good friend has been diagnosed with the disease.
First-time “Ride for Memories” participant Ron Banks, who heard about the event from his co-workers at the mill, said it’s a chance to get out and go for a long motorcycle ride with friends, as well as meet other local riders.
Also participating in the Alzheimer fundraiser for his first time was Sebastien Jodar. He said he wanted to support a worthy cause, adding two people in his family have been afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
Like others, Jodar also said the ride is a fine opportunity to meet other motorcycle enthusiasts.
Don Foster of Emo said it was his second time on the ride, having first gone the year before last when riders were beset by winds and heavy rains.
With a much more pleasant journey ahead of him this past Saturday, Foster said he wanted to go on the “Ride for Memories” because it’s “for an excellent cause.”
“And the fact I get to go for a ride, too. I don’t get to ride much,” he smiled.
Also among the riders was Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty, who departed from The Harbourage on Saturday morning and travelled to Dryden with the rest of the pack.
As in past years, the riders with the three-highest fundraising totals earned prizes.
Brian MacDonald of Dryden raised $4,610 and chose a Northern Harbour Sailboard Charter (Kenora) package while Kennedy, who had the second-highest tally, picked a two-night stay at Tomahawk Resort in Sioux Narrows.
Bob Gordon of Kenora, who raised the third-highest amount with $1,525, won a two-night stay at Lakeview Lodge in Nestor Falls.
Kenora resident and former mayor Dave Canfield got an honourable mention for bringing in $1,451 in pledges.
As well, the ride again incorporated a “poker run,” with prizes going to the best four hands.
The winners and their prizes included Phil Rumpel of Kenora (one-night stay at the Super 8 Motel in Fort Frances), Destiny Glushek of Red Lake (one-night stay at the Days Inn in Kenora), Shane Anderson of Vermilion Bay (one-night stay at the Best Western Lakeside Inn in Kenora), and Robyn Nairn of Winnipeg (one-night stay at the Riverview Lodge in Dryden).
Last year’s “Ride for Memories” drew about 150 riders and raised around $32,000.
That trip saw raiders go to Rainy River for lunch, then converge in Dryden that evening.