Motorcyclists took to area highways for a road trip Saturday as part of the local Alzheimer Society’s ninth-annual “Ride for Memories,” with this year’s ride ending here in Fort Frances that evening.
The fundraiser saw a total of 160 registered participants and brought in at least $31,000, said Alzheimer Society executive director Lynn Moffatt.
This is slightly lower than their goal of $35,000, but Moffatt added the total so far is just an early approximation and may increase over the next few days as the amount is finalized.
The three dozen riders who departed from The Harbourage here around 9 a.m. raised $7,900.
The three other starting locations across the region were Kenora, Dryden, and Sioux Lookout, with 10 riders also joining in from Thunder Bay.
Participants first met for a barbeque lunch in Dryden. They then made their way to Atikokan before returning to Fort Frances for a steak dinner at the Adventure Inn.
“I thought it went really well,” she enthused, citing they had more riders this year than they’ve had in the past. “We had good weather and a great turnout.”
They had several new riders take part, with two local motorcyclists bringing along their granddaughters, 10-year-old Carlee Beazley and 16-year-old Jenaya Van Heyst.
“We have a wide range age group participate, which is nice to see,” voiced Moffatt.
Jan Beazley noted it’s something her granddaughter has always wanted to do.
“I just thought it’d be fun,” Carlee Beazley noted, adding she was bringing along plenty of snacks and her iPod.
“Life doesn’t get any better than this,” remarked Dave Beazley about spending the “Ride for Memories” with his granddaughter. He was joining the event for the first time this year.
“It’s for a good cause,” he expressed. “And it’s a great day to go riding. Every day is a great day to go riding.”
Van Heyst, whose grandfather Don Meyers has participated in the “Ride for Memories” five times before, did ride part of the way one year, but was excited to take part in the entire event this time around.
“[The participants] are already excited for next year,” Moffatt mentioned, noting next year’s 10th-annual event has already been scheduled for Aug. 25.
“The riders enjoy coming out, getting together and riding, and collecting pledges for a good cause,” she added. “It is our largest fundraising event.”
While many of the participants have been involved in the “Ride for Memories” since its inception in 2003, Moffatt said the event continues to grow.
“We’re expecting even more next year,” she remarked, indicating several of this year’s new riders are anxious to get more people on board.
They also had a successful steak dinner, with a pie auction, silent auction, and a prize raffle also being held.
The top pledge-getters included Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield ($3,620), Brian McDonald of Dryden ($3,000), and Patty Labbe from Emo ($2,255).
Canfield’s prize was a one-week stay at North Star Village, which he auctioned at the event to raise additional proceeds. McDonald won two nights at Tomahawk Lodge, while Labee received a one night of accommodations at Travelodge in Winnipeg.
“We’d really like to thank our sponsors and riders,” Moffatt stressed. “It really helps out the Alzheimer Society.
“Alzheimer’s is on the rise throughout the district,” she warned. “We’re seeing an increase of over a thousand individuals, so we do know we need to be offering more services and programs.”
“The proceeds from this event make a huge contribution to the success of the Alzheimer’s society and enable us to support and provide services to families, and people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia related diseases,” she added.
In related news, the Alzheimer Society locally will be offering caregiver support groups in Fort Frances the last Thursday of the month and in Emo on the last Wednesday of the month.
For more information about the Alzheimer Society, visit www.alzheimerkrr.com or call 1-800-682-0245.