From burly, leather-clad bikers to Ponoka’s own mayor, people with hearts of gold from across the province gathered in Ponoka for another Ride for Sight celebration, June 21 to 23.
The central Alberta stop on the charity fundraiser’s schedule wasn’t always held in Ponoka. Area co-ordinator Dave Lashchyshyn says for a time it was held at the Stony Plain Casino.
However, the location took away the fun family atmosphere the organizers wanted and a change was made.
Riders from as far as Fort McMurray and Lethbridge congregated at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex with their minimum $50 fundraising efforts. “Over the years people have come a long way to get here,” said Lashchyshyn.
All the money raised at Alberta Ride for Sight events stays in Alberta and funds blindness and vision research at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta.
Lashchyshyn says on average $90,000 to $100,000 is raised each year. “Usually somebody that’s taking part they, or someone they know, have a vision impairment.”
Candis Senkoe rode in from Grand Prairie with her boyfriend to partake in the event. It was Senkoe’s boyfriend who introduced her to Ride for Sight. “He’s got vision problems so it’s a big thing for him,” she explained.
“It’s a cause that’s important to him so it’s important to me too,” Senkoe added.
Although her eyes aren’t troubled, the message of Ride for Sight still hits close to home. Senkoe’s mother is mostly blind and needs glasses. “I swear if there was something they could do to help she’d jump right on.”
Progressive research also saved her cousin’s sight.
Keith Andison came from Edmonton for his 21st time being a part of Ride for Sight. “There was a bunch of us and we heard of Ride for Sight going to Rimbey,” he said, referring to 21 years ago. “(It was) just basically on a whim.”
This year Andison raised $1,090, slightly less than last year’s $1,250. “This is the fourth year in a row over $1,000.”
“The ride is something to do and it’s a worthwhile cause too,” he added.
Also eager to involve themselves in the Ride for Sight festivities were stunt riders Jeff Fehr and Reagan Sieg.
“I think it’s awesome, it’s cool. How could it not be?” said Sieg. “For us it’s nice to be included in things like this.”
Sieg and Fehr put on several highflying stunt show at Ride for Sight over the weekend for the gathering crowds. “This is another (event) we do for a good cause that we definitely like being a part of,” said Fehr.
Sieg and Fehr grew up knowing each other from the track and have been performing together in one fashion or another for years. “When I was a kid, Reagan was one of those guys you looked up to,” said Fehr.
“I was a back-flipper and he was my manager. We pretty much do everything together,” he added.
While Sieg likes the adrenaline of performing “Everything but hitting the ground when you’re not on your motorcycle in an attraction;” Fehr prefers the conquering feeling that comes with the stunts.
‘To be honest I have a lot of fear. It’s about making the bike do things it was not meant to do,” said Fehr.