Turning 10 this year, Ride for Refuge (RFR) Vancouver 2018 happens on Sept. 29. Founded in the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario in 2004 with 20 participants, the fundraiser has since spread across Canada and grown exponentially.
Participants start in Richmond and ride a bike or walk along a prescribed route, helping raise money that is allocated to providing housing, resettlement assistance and relational support for newly arrived refugee claimant families seeking asylum. And more.
“The first ride in Vancouver had about 300 participants and at that time, during the first six years, it was focused on refugee aid specifically. Then in 2010 the event changed names from Ride for Refugees to Ride for Refuge, which expanded the types of charities that could use the event,” said senior development associate Mika Takamaki.
“So now, the ride also helps raise funds for widows, orphans, victims of trafficking, literacy programs, food programs, those affected by homelessness, water projects, etc. Just a wide variety of different charities (currently 190 in total) and different good causes.”
Today, RFR in 25 Canadian cities. Last year, 6,400 participants took part bringing in $2.15 million nationwide, 774 and $296,000 in Vancouver, respectively. Each location has one host charity that helps organize and perform administrative duties for all the other organizations — here, it’s Journey Home Community.
Macdonald Realty Westmar is the lead sponsor of the 2018 iteration in Vancouver and has its own team called the Westmar Wheels of Steel. Team captain and realtor Seyon Kim volunteers at Journey Home, an experience he says has been a distinct privilege.
“I’ve had the unique pleasure in assisting JHC acquire property to serve as both temporary and long term housing solutions for refugee claimants. There are a lot of misconceptions around the issue, and until I started volunteering with the organization I was in the dark about the reality and plight for those seeking asylum,” said Kim.
“Every family and couple that I have worked with and assisted have these three common threads: hard work, gratitude and hope. Hard working immigrants and refugees give back to their communities and pay-it-forward.”
There’s still time to take part. Click here to join Westmar Wheels of Steel in a five or 10 kilometre walk or 25 kilometre bike ride.
More info at rideforrefuge.org/home.