A group of senior cyclists pass Qualicum Beach Saturday morning en route to Victoria as part of an annual Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign raising money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Grannies ride to Victoria to raise funds for African grandmothers

Locals say more than $55,000 has been raised to date

A unique group of cyclists breezed through Parksville Qualicum Beach Saturday en route to B.C.’s capital city.

Twenty-six women, ages 55 to 72, took part in an annual 275 kilometre ride taking participants from Campbell River to Victoria over three days.

“We’re not a real fast group but we’re committed,” laughed Maureen Weston, a participating cyclist from Victoria.

Weston explained the ride is a fundraising effort for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s (SLF) Grandmother to Grandmother campaign.

“We’re raising money for other grandmothers in Africa who are raising kids full-time due to the aids epidemic,” she said, noting the cyclists have rallied more than $55,000 for the campaign to date.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to support others in need and it’s a great community effort,” said Weston, adding this is her second year partaking in the event.

She said the 26 female riders have been training for six months and come from all over Vancouver Island. Weston called the ride “thrilling” and “emotional.”

“We’re all struggling together and celebrating together,” she said. “It’s a good experience.”

Seventy-one-year-old Paxie Vreede has been riding for six consecutive years with the group.

“I’m doing it because of the fact that we take so much for granted here,” Vreede told The NEWS from Deez Bar and Grill Saturday morning, where the cyclists stopped for breakfast before heading south.

“We all care about our grandchildren but we never think about how just across the ocean there are 15 million orphans with nobody,” she said, reflecting back on her March visit to Ethiopia, where she travelled with the same organization to see first-hand where the donations are being spent.

“You hear stories and you see pictures but when you’re really there you realize how much in common you have with these people, but also how fortunate we are,” said Vreede.

The cyclists took off from Campbell River on Friday, spent one night in Qualicum Beach, fueled up with breakfast Saturday morning at Deez and arrived in Victoria on Sunday.

According to a news release issued by the SLF “in additional to fundraising, all riders pay a registration fee to participate in the ride, and pay all of their own accommodation and meal expenses. Every penny of the money the riders raise is forwarded to the SLF to be used for African grandmothers.”

For more information or to donate visit: http://www.stephenlewisfoundation.org/

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