Kick start the charity ride season with the Cycle for Sight
Kick off the riding season with a charity ride that will directly impact some of the most underfunded, under-researched patients in Canada. The Foundation Fighting Blindness Cycle for Sight hits the streets June 3, 2017, in Langley.
Circling through Langley, the 30-km lap allows participants to choose a 30-, 60-, 90- or 120-kilometre route. New and experienced cyclists join families and individuals affected by blindness on this lovely, low-traffic course.
“There is nothing but positivity on this ride,” says four-year participant Carl Hansen. “For the beginner, there is nothing intimidating - you will see kids on mountain bikes, but there are also the riders at the front giving it to do the full 120.”
Hansen is a passionate advocate for the cause. He has seen first-hand how important this fundraiser is.
“Most of the people who participate have a connection to the cause. Every year you see the same families, and you see those directly impacted by the funds we are raising. This is a bit of a neglected cause,” he says. “These are conditions that deeply affect people but are very rare. We can all imagine the seriousness of losing our sight, but there isn’t a lot of financial incentive for because the numbers aren’t there.”
Carl Hansen during the 2016 Cycle for Sight.
As a biotech researcher, he feels blindness is a comparatively easier problem to solve.
“We are seeing advances in gene therapy and the combining of science and technology that can have an impact,” Hansen says.
Throughout the riding season, there are numerous charity rides, most of them for important causes. The biggest difference between the Cycle for Sight and larger charity rides is that those causes often get plenty of attention and funding from other sources.
The Cycle for Sight has raised $3.7 million over the years, with the money going to research that may not have any other source, according to Hansen. From groundbreaking studies with Canada’s first bionic eye to researching developing medications that aim to cure some types of vision loss with a simple pill, the Foundation Fighting Blindness is supporting people with vision loss of all ages and throughout Canada.
The funding from the Foundation Fighting Blindness is making impactful homegrown research: over the last 25 years, five of the 10 most-cited retinal disease papers in Canada were produced with funding from the Foundation. Citations mean that the ideas and findings in a research paper are being used by the scientific community. The money raised here is also staying in Canada; 100 per cent of the scientists funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness' operating grants in the past 10 years remain in Canada working on retina-related projects.
Another goal of the Foundation is to raise the profile of these issues, which brings another unique feature to the Cycle for Sight: vision-impaired cyclists are also routed. Vision-impaired riders are encouraged to join teams or ride tandem. With its unique lap design, this is a charity ride for the rookie cyclist or the experienced.
“It’s not about the time you finish - if you are new you will not get passed by the front group,” said Hansen. “You can enjoy the community you are supporting while you watch the other riders finish.”
Hansen has a goal this year to get more passionate cyclists to join the Cycle for Sight. Hansen wants to leverage all the passionate roadies that hit the pavement each week in Vancouver to throw some of their efforts at this under-the-radar event.
Why families are riding the Cycle for Sight.
“This is a charity that is essential - if the charity doesn’t kick in nothing happens.”
There are other Cycle for Sight rides in Ottawa, Creemore (Toronto), Sylvan Lake (Red Deer, Alberta) and St. John’s, Newfoundland.