Maria Yerema is hoping Oceanside residents will consider downing a beer and burger for Boomer.
That would be the late Cpl. Andrew Eykelenboom, a Canadian Forces medical technician known to his comrades as Boomer, who perished on August 9, 2006 in Afghanistan, one day before he was set to fly home to Comox.
In commemoration of his off-duty activities in Afghanistan, the Ride for Boomer’s Legacy was created, said Yerema.
“Boomer’s Legacy Fund is a fund for military personnel when they are in the theatre to help people in the country they are in,” she said.
“For instance, one time they replaced a flock of sheep that had been killed by the Taliban. These are things that they often pay for out of their own pocket, such as shoes or a jacket for the kids, jacket. This gives access to funds for that.”
Yerema is one of just a handful of non-military riders who will saddle up on June 15 to ride from Comox to Victoria to raise money for the fund. She said she opted to get on board with the program two years ago and found it a deeply rewarding experience.
“It’s practical,” she said. “To me it’s just a great cause. It’s nice for the soldiers and for the people. It’s win-win.”
The ride starts from the military base in Comox, with the first leg going to Nanaimo, where they will camp out at the armory. The riders will then continue on to Victoria. It’s a long, gruelling grind, but one that Yerema and her two companions, Imi Carroll and Holly Fortier, find more than worthwhile.
“It’s a great goal,” Yerema said.
“It also gets you on your bike. Last Sunday I did 90 kilometres in the rain and I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t known this was coming up.”
Each rider is required to raise $300 for the fund and to that end, Yerema is inviting Oceanside residents to enjoy a beer and burger night at the Parksville Legion on June 2, from 4 to 7 p.m. Half the proceeds from the event will go towards the $900 goal for the three riders, while the other half will go to the Legion.
For more information about Boomer’s legacy, visit boomerslegacy.ca.