Riders and other officials taking part in the annual Military Police National Motorcycle Relay gather in front of the legislature before heading out. The Esquimalt-to-Gander

Children benefit from cross-Canada ride

Military charity hosting fundraiser in Esquimalt before beginning ride to Newfoundland.

Riders participating in the eighth annual Military Police National Motorcycle Relay head out this weekend, but not before the first fundraiser takes place for the cross-country charity tour.

This Saturday (July 30) from 5 to 8 p.m., local organizers are hosting a public by-donation hot dog and hamburger barbecue at the Naval Officers Training Centre (NOTC) Venture on Victoria View Road at Work Point in Esquimalt. A silent auction featuring upwards of $10,000 in donated items, including a B.C. Ferries Northern Passage cruise, massage sessions, restaurant vouchers and more, is also part of the proceedings.

Team B.C. leader Lamont French, a retired longtime MP and native Newfoundlander who lives in Langford, said the Victoria to Gander event has raised more than $470,000 nationally since 2009 for the registered charity Military Police Fund for Blind Children. Roughly $100,000 of those funds have come from B.C., he added.

The charity provides funding for blind and partially sighted children and young adults – newborn to age 21 – to get involved in recreational programs, as well as for organizations involved in helping such individuals. One former beneficiary will be at the barbecue Saturday to speak about how it helped them. Such firsthand accounts usually hit home for people, French added.

“When the people can actually see where their money is going, I find that they ‘get it,’” he said. “By helping out, people can truly say I’ve made a difference in the world.”

The relay sees riders join in and drop off across the country, with the exception of a handful who do the whole ride, he said. Thirty-five from Vancouver Island and the B.C. Interior will head off from NOTC at around 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

The Royal Canadian Legion is a big supporter of the charity, and various branches across the country put on fundraisers and provide riders with meals along the way, French said.

Some of the B.C. riders will make a trip down to the B.C. legislature and Mile 0 early Saturday afternoon before stopping by Macaulay Point in Esquimalt, where riders doing the entire trip will dip their toe into the ocean (they’ll do the same in Newfoundland).

For more information on the ride or to donate, visit mpfbc.com or contact French at 778-966-1551 or by email at lamontfrench@shaw.ca.

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