• James Parry

On the road again to help terminally ill youngsters fulfill their dreams


PHOTO COURTESY MARC BALEVI

Mission accomplished, cyclists, support crew, and family celebrate at the finishing line after another recent successful fundraising ride.

For the past 14 years, long-time friends, Hudsonite Marc Balevi and Rob Fetherstonhaugh who lives in Dorval, have cycled tens of thousands of kilometres together across Canada west of Montreal raising over $700,000 to date for some very special youngsters. Namely, terminally ill children whose dreams are made to come true through The Children's Wish Foundation.

On July 15, together with 15 other cyclists and all at their own expense, they will take to the road again - this time in the Maritimes - to hopefully boost that total to an incredible $750,000 through their self-funded program Canada Cycles for Kids with every last cent going to the cause.

Said Balevi in an exclusive interview with Your Local Journal this week, “For our 15th year, and also for Canada's 150th Anniversary, we felt it time to be truly present from sea to shining sea. And so we will be setting out from Charlottetown en route to Moncton, Quebec City, and finally Montreal when about eight of us will arrive on July 22 after 700 km of pedalling for the benefit of many less fortunate and deserving children in unimaginable circumstances.

“These youngsters are the real heroes, as are the families that support them and the staff and countless volunteers of the foundation that work so hard to make them laugh and smile one more time.”

So how did it all begin back in 2002? Explained Balevi, a retired tax accountant who says he loves the beauty and calmness of living in Hudson far from the “hectic world” he worked in in Montreal before making it his home in 2008, “I was out riding with Rob one day and happened to mention that I would like to cycle across Canada. He said that he would too. And then we thought why not do such a cycle trip and make it a fundraiser? Feeling blessed with healthy children of our own, we looked for an organization that helped families who weren’t as blessed and The Children’s Wish Foundation was a natural.”

Added Balevi, “In my view, there is no better way of travelling and really seeing the country than by bicycle. And knowing that we are raising money for such a worthwhile cause makes it even more special.”

Unlike many fundraisers which deduct the costs of running the event from donations collected, Balevi and Fetherstonhaugh ask those that are contributing to make their tax deductible donations directly to The Children’s Wish Foundation. They themselves cover all the other costs - including travel, accommodation, fundraising dinner expenses, T-shirts, banner, van rental, and website - out of their own pockets.

Donations are lump sum at the discretion of the donor and can be made via CCFK’s website either by credit card - which has a link that goes to the Foundation or by downloading a form to fill out and mail to CCFK with a cheque - made out to The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada - that they will redirect to the Foundation.

The link to the donation page of their website is www.canadacyclesforkids.com.

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