October and November are always months that can go either way when it comes to weather, but October 2016 started out as a chilly and wet month in Southwestern Ontario. And it was on the first of the month, on a drizzly and grey day, that over a hundred individuals in London - and thousands of riders across Canada – hopped on their bicycles to dedicate their muscles and warmth to a great cause.
Ride for Refuge is a "fantastically fun, family-friendly bicycling or walking fundraiser in support of 250+ charities serving displaced, vulnerable, and exploited people.” In the 2016 Ride, IJM Canada was hoping to raise $50,000 to protect women and girls in the Dominican Republic from sex trafficking. But because of our amazing supporters, that goal was far exceeded with over $61,000 raised.
Below are some of the amazing stories from individuals who helped to make that happen.
(P.S. Click here to join team IJM Canada in the next ride!)
Justin Armitage – Kitchener/Waterloo Ride
"This was my first time participating in the Ride for Refuge. I now wonder why I've never gotten involved sooner! It was an incredible privilege to ride for International Justice Mission and help to bring freedom to some of the most vulnerable people in the world.
The Ride gives glimpses of what it's like to be displaced: you face uncertain weather, try to stay together with your team, sometimes wonder where everyone else went, and ultimately you need to work together to achieve a bigger goal. It allowed me to, on a very small scale and for a very short period of time, understand the situations of those we were riding for.
I rode with a friend from our church and her daughter and daughter's friends. So that's who the photo is with. Adrianna, second from the right, does the ride for her birthday with a few friends each year. Their team name was ‘The Unrelateds’ (as they were not related!). They were riding for MCRS in KW. Here is our picture after the ride."
Hannah Cavey – Winnipeg Ride
"It was an awesome morning for our family! The girls absolutely loved biking the 10k. We weren't sure if Amelia would be able to do it because she's still using training wheels, and the longest she's ever done is a few blocks! But we took our time; enjoyed the company of the other riders, the great weather, and snacks; and we finished when the first 50k riders were coming in! :) "
Beth Hoffman – Calgary Ride
"The Ride went really well here in Calgary! Our weather was like yours [in London] - cold (9 degrees Celsius) and rainy (we had thunder and torrential rain early on Saturday morning but fortunately it settled down to a steady drizzle by the time we were riding). Poor weather somehow rallies people, though and makes the team come together in high, determined spirits. Last year we had freezing rain so this year seemed good in comparison!
You may be interested in the story of Patrick and Erick, who are refugee brothers from the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] who rode with our team. They have a beautiful 'full circle' story of being refugees and recipients of help who are now giving back. Patrick and Erick's family fled the war in DRC and spent time in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya before coming to Canada. Our family was matched with theirs in an immigrant resettlement volunteer program run through the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and we've become good friends. Patrick and Erick did not have bikes but were given some this summer by a Calgarian named Gina who collects and tunes up hundreds of second hand bikes and passes them on to refugees (primarily Syrian refugees but she is happy to help anyone). So, I got bikes for the boys via Gina and they fundraised at their school and took part in the Ride. Patrick even boldly asked his principal to sponsor him! They didn't raise a lot of money but they are going to do more fundraising as the Ride accepts donations until the end of October.”
Julia Trotter – Oshawa Ride
"We had a great morning! Despite the forecast calling for 5-10 mm of rain, we only hit a few patches of drizzle. The route was a beautiful trail along one of Oshawa's creeks, down to the lake and back. James and Peter were our charioteers in the trailer, and John was a champ, riding his own bike. We were unsure whether we'd manage the full 10 km route, as John has never ridden that far, but he was amazing, and as you can see from the picture below, we made it to the turnaround point and all the way back!”