It didn’t take long for riders in this year’s Cops for Kids tour to see some of the good work their efforts produce.
Nineteen cyclists and six support crew members who set out Friday from Kelowna for the 10-day journey around the Southern Interior paused in Penticton that afternoon for a meet-and-greet with 12-year-old Candace Allison.
The girl has cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy, conditions that limited her mobility until Cops for Kids purchased her a cruiser wheelchair, which resembles an oversized, collapsible stroller.
“I myself have cerebral palsy and I don’t drive, so I don’t qualify for a wheelchair van. So most of the time we were stuck at home, because in her big wheelchair I can’t take her a lot of places,” said mom Coral Hayward.
Allison’s caregiver, Terry McClelland, said the cruiser has helped the entire family.
“She had to go down to Children’s Hospital in March and that would have meant a horrendous trip for mom on the Greyhound with a wheelchair, and instead, I was able to throw the carseat in my car, throw this (cruiser) in my trunk, and away we went,” said McClelland.
“It’s opened up huge possibilities” for Allison.
Cops for Kids president Gail Harrison said Allison’s story is a textbook example of the organization’s focus on raising funds to support kids in medical, physical or traumatic distress.
“We pride ourselves on being able to come in where other agencies can’t,” said Harrison.
Since its inception in 2001, the group has raised $2.4 million, she continued, but noted that grant requests are now exceeding available funds.
This year’s ride, which is presented by the Thomas Alan Budd Foundation, visits the Kootenays this week before returning to Kelowna on Sunday.
To donate or follow the ride, visit www.copsforkids.org.