Since 2019, Graham Hales has been cycling, spinning and collecting bottles to raise funds for Victoria Hospice and this year is set to be no different.
The Colwood resident and members of his cycling team Breaking Wind are embarking on at least three fundraising events between now and the summer, culminating in the Cycle of Life Tour in July.
“I lost a friend to ALS (in 2018) so I was kind of needing something like this just to put my energy into,” Hales said. “That drove me like crazy to do this fundraiser and keeps me going at it.”
The fundraising efforts kick off on Saturday (April 9) with a bottle drive happening from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the B.C. Transit park and ride in Colwood. Previous drives have brought in more than $2,000, with all proceeds being split amongst all eight Breaking Wind members as part of their contributions to Victoria Hospice, Hales said.
Should the drive be as successful this year, it would put the group well on the way to reaching their fundraising goal of $30,000, considering they sat around $7,800 as of April 5.
“It’s exciting and a bit nerve-racking as we get closer, just because there are so many moving parts and people. I just try to focus on the big picture and what we are doing this for.”
After the bottle drive, Hales shifts his focus to finalizing details of a “spinathon” at West Shore Parks and Recreation for the end of May. That event will see him and some of his teammates take shifts pedalling on stationary bikes for an entire day to drum up even more donations.
While organized outside the Cycle of Life Tour umbrella, the spinathon will benefit the cause and aims to encourage competition with tour teams from across the Island to see which can ride the longest and raise the most money.
But of course the main fundraising event is the tour itself, during which teams will ride more than 200 kilometres over two days in July. Each team supports its own hospice organization on the Island, ensuring as many communities as possible benefit.
“A lot of people don’t realize how hard it is to care for someone who is dying … people are giving to what I think is an incredible charitable organization we are all probably going to need at some point,” Hales said. “Each year I say ‘maybe I’ll back off,’ but I just keep going at it and don’t want to stop.”
Anyone looking to help the team reach its fundraising goal is welcome to contribute bottles or cash on Saturday, or make a donation to the entire team or an individual rider through cycleoflifetour.ca.