Karen King is one of two Campbell River members of Grandmothers to Grandmothers who will ride to Victoria in support of the Grandmothers for Africa ride Sept. 8.

Vancouver Island grandmothers ready to ride

Annual Grandmothers for Africa tour to set off from Campbell River on Sept. 8

Once again Campbell River’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers will set off from Campbell River’s Rotary Beach Park Sept. 8 to ride in support of the Victoria Grandmothers for Africa 275-kilometre bicycle tour.

Riders from all over Vancouver Island will gather at 8:30 that Friday morning and ride south to Victoria over the following three days.

They are accommodated with lunches and snacks by the many Grandmother groups along the way and stay in motels/hotels for overnights. The weekend is completed with a “ride in” ceremony at the legislative grounds. You will recognize them by their colourful team jerseys of yellow, green, and orange stripes.

Campbell River Grandmothers to Grandmothers (find them on Facebook) host a fundraising meet and greet potluck supper the evening prior to the tour for the riders and support team who have come, typically from Victoria, but also from other places of Vancouver Island and even further afield. They pull out all the stops to provide a delicious and festive meal to fuel the riders and support crew before their long ride. Riders are senior women 55+ and it is interesting to hear their personal stories for taking on the commitment and training to ride and raise funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. In addition to the time they invest in training and fund raising, all riders pay their own expenses for accommodation and meals. Every penny of funds raised by the cycle tour is forwarded to the Stephen Lewis Foundation to be used for African grandmothers. Campbell River riders, Mary Lou Mahoney and Karen King, have been doing just that for their second tour. They held an “Art From The Attic” garage sale in July with the help of their G2G group that raised almost $2,100 during a weekend in July. Online donations can be made through the Bike Tour page http://slf.akaraisin.com/grandmotherspledges2017/cycletour275

African grandmothers are central to the life of their communities. With almost no support, they have stepped forward to care for millions of children orphaned by AIDS, sometimes as many as 10-15 in one household. They display astonishing reserves of love, courage and emotional resilience, even while grieving the loss of their own adult children.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) delivers resources directly into the hands of the grassroots organizations turning the tide of HIV and AIDS in Africa. SLF has partnered with more than 300 community-based organizations and over 1,400 innovative and inspiring initiatives have been successfully undertaken with proven measures of success in the 15 African countries hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic. Resources from the campaign are invested directly at the community level, with organizations that provide grandmothers and the children in their care with supports that include food, educational supplies, uniforms and school fees, medical care, HIV counselling and testing, adequate housing and bedding, counselling and support groups, home visits, income generation and treatment adherence and much more.

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