Jackie Leigh

Island grandmothers kick it into high gear

Grandmothers will be cycling from Campbell River today to Victoria to raise money for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Africa

You may have seen these three women, Jackie Leigh, Margo Cormack and Linda Carlson, peddling their blue bikes about town.

They will be joining 30 Vancouver Island grandmothers cycling from Campbell River to Victoria, September 7 – 9, to raise funds for African grandmothers who are faced with the unimaginable task of burying their own children and then raising their HIV/AIDS-orphaned grandchildren.

Cormack and Leigh are looking forward to joining the ride for the first time this year. Carlson did it last year and found inspiration in cycling the beautiful back roads of Vancouver Island with a group of wonderful women from across the Island. Many had done it several times and the oldest was 80-years-old.

The journey begins today at 9 a.m. in Rotary Park.

After 275 kilometers of cycling, a welcome celebration takes place this year on Grandparents Day, September 9, in Victoria.

In five years, cycling grannies have raised more than $200,000 with the support of amazing donors.  This year the goal is to surpass a quarter of a million dollars, and every penny goes to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. Cyclists pay all their own expenses; all contributions go to the SLF.

Leigh, Cormack and Carlson have held several successful fundraising events and the website  http://bit.ly/VG4Acycle is a very user friendly site for anyone wishing to contribute to their fundraising efforts.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation currently provides funding for over 300 community projects in 15 Sub-Saharan African countries. Canadian grandmothers coast to coast have contributed more than $13.5 million to this campaign in six years ($1 for every AIDS orphan in Africa).  There is truly Canadian grandmother power across this country for the African grandmothers who are holding together whole communities in extreme conditions.  In some African countries, 40 – 60 per cent of orphans live in grandmother-headed households.