Heart and Stroke Big Bike pedals into Lumsden

The Old Spokes team pedal their way up James Street on the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Big Bike June 9. Photo by Sarah MacMillan.

It impacts more than 1.6 million Canadians, and every seven minutes it claims another life. It’s heart disease and stroke.

But research, made possible through fundraising, is helping to make a difference, and on Friday, a group of Lumsden residents and students pedalled to make their own contribution.

Staff and board members of the Lumsden and District Heritage Home, community members and high school students came together to form Old Spokes, a team that filled the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Big Bike and fundraised for heart disease and stroke research.

For around 20 minutes, riders powered the one bike with 30 seats, a driver touring the cyclists around the community to celebrate their fundraising efforts and draw attention to heart disease and stroke.

The Old Spokes hit the Lumsden Streets just after 11:30 a.m. June 9, the group touring past the Lumsden elementary and high schools before making their way to James Street and back to the Heritage Home. Riders were encouraged to wear red and white, the colours of the Heart and Stroke foundation, and to celebrate Canada 150.

The tour marked the second year for the Old Spokes team, the Heritage Home first joining in the big bike tour last year.

“I see a definite tie-in between the disease and residents in the (Heritage) home,” said Sara Cockwill, administrator for the Lumsden and District Heritage Home.

Team captain and assistant administrator Robin Bechard recognized the event is a great way to get the community involved with the home. She is hoping to keep the event going annually in Lumsden.

Joining in the ride were eight Lumsden High School (LHS) students. Students became involved last year after LHS’s Cassie Curtis was invited to participate following her work experience at the home. This year more students joined the ride.

“We like the community involvement,” explained teacher Heather Winter.

Before heading out on the bike, Big Bike drivers Katelyn Petersen and Carter Petrychyn pumped up the participants with a relay, smiles and laughter filling the grounds outside the home and setting the tone for the ride.

In 2017 the big bike is travelling to 50 communities for more than 120 rides. In four weeks the biking event raised more than $120,000. The goal for the season is $320,000.