A major motivator behind Cpl. Alex Millham’s recent motorcycle purchase was this year’s Military Police National Motorcycle Relay.
The Royal Canadian Air Force electric generation systems technician — based in Comox, B.C., for the last five years but who will soon be stationed in Halifax — participated in the British Columbia loop of last year’s relay and aims this year to be one of a handful of riders to complete the event’s entire cross-country trip. The relay raises funds for the Military Police Fund for Blind Children.
“I just got back from deployment in Kuwait over the last winter, so a big chunk of my tour money went towards the new bike,” Millham said.
Millham joined more than a dozen other riders, including Sidney Town Crier Kenny Podmore and a few Vancouver Island mayors, Saturday to kick off the first leg of this year’s relay. The Saturday trip sent riders from Esquimalt to Sidney and back, with a few stops, including one at the B.C. legislature building in Victoria and another at the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans club in Sidney.
Millham is no stranger to travelling across Canada. He said when he was posted to Comox from Gagetown, in New Brunswick, he travelled across the country in his car, but he noted, with this year’s motorcycle relay, he’s particularly excited for the opportunity to make the trip on his bike.
“I got to see a really beautiful side of the country that I enjoyed, and doing it on a motorcycle just seems that much more fun,” he said.
Podmore, Sidney’s town crier who took part in the Saturday leg, said he won’t forget the ride. The trip was his first time on a motorcycle in more than 20 years.
“What an experience,” he said. “It was just like being treated like royalty. Everybody standing and waving, and the police escort — it was just absolutely awesome. I shall treasure this memory for a long while.”
Podmore delivered two proclamations for the event — one on the steps of the B.C. legislature building and another in Sidney. He also spent several minutes taking photos with tourists on the steps of the legislature building, and he and the other riders were welcomed with applause as they paraded through Sidney.
The entire relay is set to last about 18 days, with riders finishing in St. John’s on the east coast. Major Dale Troia, a military police officer with the Canadian Armed Forces and national chair of this year’s relay, said earlier this week he expects a total of about 300 riders to take part in the tour, with most joining along for only portions of the cross-country trip.
The Military Police Fund for Blind Children aids Canadian children who are visually impaired. The relay, now in its 11th year, raised close to $100,000 for the organization last year and has raised about $600,000 for charity since the first event.
Millham, who started a GoFundMe page to help with his fundraising efforts this year, said his goal is to raise $5,000 for the fund.
—- with files from Nick Murray