The Campbell River Soul Cyclers are preparing for this year’s ride to support the hospice’s grief counselling services — the demand for which has increased throughout the pandemic.
Cycle of Life is a yearly, two-day event in which teams of cyclists from across Vancouver Island ride 200 kilometres to raise money for their local hospices. But this year’s event is taking a different form — with each team participating individually — because of COVID-19.
Campbell River’s team, the Soul Cyclers, are riding on July 24 to raise money for Campbell River Hospice Society’s grief counselling. The demand for these services has risen, with suicide and drug overdose fatalities increasing throughout the pandemic, explained Louise Daviduck, executive director of the hospice.
“COVID has created a whole new wave of extra grief and trauma around loss,” said Daviduck. “We’re also feeling a lot of fallout from the COVID restrictions — of people who are losing loved ones and not being able to have a funeral.”
The Soul Cyclers will complete a 100-kilometre route, travelling south to Courtney and back. The team is being led by Kelly Fisher, who started in 2017, when she was the only rider representing Campbell River.
“I decided to register for the ride, because physically, I thought it would be an extraordinary challenge, but also, it was a way to help hospice,” said Fisher.
“I’m continually impressed by the resourceful hospice in our community,” she said. “I can only reflect back to when I was young and I lost my father. I wish this resource had been something that was available to my family to navigate grief, because I’ve seen firsthand how hospice helps not only the terminally ill individual, but also the family left behind.”
The Soul Cyclers were founded the next year, when more local riders joined Fisher. The group has grown since, along with the fundraising dollars they raise — which have helped the hospice.
“The money the team raises every year goes towards our counselling and we’ve been building on it,” said Daviduck. “Of course, we didn’t expect this huge pandemic and this overwhelming need for support, but the ride will help us continue to build on support we can provide the community — because it’s quite overwhelming right now.”
The hospice now employs two full-time counsellors and is may add another part-time. “All of this has been possible because the Soul Cyclers and the consistency of their fundraising,” she said.
This year’s team also includes Kathy Morrison, Sandra Rushton, Terry Jacques, Bruce Wood, Marcy Prior, Barry Peters, Erika Kellerhals, and Paula Anderson, who is the team’s fundraiser organizer.
“Fundraisers have been a little bit different because of COVID, so we’ve had to use a little bit of ingenuity,” said Anderson. “We just never give up as a team.”
There are multiple ways the team fundraisers throughout the year. Each rider is required to raise at least $1,000 through pledges, and the group organizes fundraising events, including an online meat and seafood sale and a virtual auction.
But one of the most important fundraising events for the team is its virtual 50/50 raffle. Tickets for this are now available via the hospice society’s website, until the morning of June 30. The winner will then be drawn on June 30 at noon.