The Rankin Rebels have been riding the Heart and Stroke Big Bike for six years now, and still manage to fill most of the 29 seats.
On June 12, you may have seen a giant red bike cycling around town, raising money for a good cause.
The Heart and Stroke Big Bike was in Morden on Monday as part of their campaign to raise money to support critical research and help the Heart and Stroke Foundation try to reach their goal of improving the health of all Canadians.
The Rankin Rebels started riding the Big Bike in 2011 in memory of Wayne Rankin. Rankin, an avid hockey player and father of two daughters, died at age 53 of a heart attack.
Six years later, the team still manages to almost entirely fill the bike, which holds up to 29 riders. “It’s very wonderful to see so many people keep supporting it, because it is such an important cause,” Shelly Rankin, Wayne’s wife, said.
Once everyone completed a short ‘team building’ exercise, the Big Bike and its riders (being steered by a professional driver) took off through town, pumping music and laughter into the air.
The Rebels are usually the only team to ride, but this year a team put together by the Morden Research and Development Centre and the City of Morden joined the cause and took the bike for a spin. “Usually it’s just been us riding, so this is a good thing to see,” Rankin said. “It’s awesome. You’re never sure what the dollar value is going to be, but that just goes to show that this is a very important cause to a lot of people.”
On Tuesday, the three teams that participated raised just under $5,000. The money will go toward Heart and Stroke Foundation and supporting their mission.
“Last year 70,000 riders across Canada in over 200 communities raised $8 million to support Heart and Stroke,” community engagement program coordinator Tim Smith said. “This year Manitoba has an ambitious fundraising target, for our Manitoba Big Bike rides we’re trying to raise $250,000. By 2020, we hope to significantly improve health of all Canadians by helping to reduce personal risk factors by 10 per cent and reduce the death rate from heart disease and stroke by 25 per cent.”
9 in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Every seven minutes a Canadian dies from either heart disease or stroke, and 80 per cent of these deaths are preventable. Heart disease is one of the highest causes of death in the country.
Donations are still open. More information about the bike can be found at www.bigbike.ca or www.heartandstroke.ca.