The sun was shining, the leis were on and the music was blaring from the speakers of the Big Bike in Newton on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.
As they did last year, the Newton BIA’s “Tour de Friends” team of more than 20 riders hopped aboard the “Big Bike” in Newton on May 15, to raise money and awareness for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
This year, I decided to tag alongside the local business folk, Transit Police, Commissionaires and many more who joined the crew, brought together by Philip Aguirre of the BIA.
We pulled out of Newton’s King’s Cross shopping centre cheering, led around the town centre by a police escort.
The honks, smiles and waves of those who stopped on the sidewalk to cheer us on were too many to count.
Business owners stepped out of their storefronts to add to the cheers.
Kids stopped and waved.
“It’s a heart-pumping, cheer-thumping, crazy big, fun ride,” the Heart and Stroke notes on its website. “For 20 minutes, 29 riders power one Big Bike…. While you pedal, you literally stop traffic to support critical heart disease and stroke research, so you’ll feel good, while doing good. But be warned: The minute you stop, you’ll want to climb right back on. It’s that much fun!”
— Newton BIA (@Newton_BIA) May 15, 2018
The ride is done and we made it as a team! Great job raising $1595 @Newton_BIA #sourcesbc @TransitPolice @CstJChung274 #csttietelbaum #commissionairesbc and all our community partners#bigbike #timetoseered @SurreyNowLeader pic.twitter.com/S35II5QDgE
— Cst Mike Woolley (@CstWoolley) May 15, 2018
— Amy Marie Reid (@amyreid87) May 15, 2018
It was a lot of fun, but beyond that, it was amazing to learn just how many of us are impacted by heart disease and stroke.
My family, sadly, has a connection of its own. My dad is still recovering from strokes he had in his early 50s. He remains in a wheelchair to this day, and continues his fight to one day get out of it.
One of my teammates I met at the ride was Rick Bayer, who is chairman of Peninsula Homeless to Housing. He shared with me that his father suffered strokes when he Bayer was just a child.
He remembers being in and out of hospital, when his father was in his 30s.
Later in life, heart disease took his father’s life.
And we’re far from alone. Heart Research Institute says that every seven minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke so countless families have endured the same.
In fact, last year the team rode as a token of appreciation to emergency responders who helped save one of their own in the local business community.
Spiro Saites of Newton’s Old Surrey Restaurant had recently survived a dramatic heart attack.
“Saites’ story is a great example of why we raised, and need to keep on raising funds for the research of heart and stroke,” stated a 2017 release. “Without everyone’s contribution, they would not be able to continue to provide their crucial services within our community.”
Aguirre said “heart and stroke has touched everyone’s family at the BIA, from uncles to parents and grandparents.”
So, we ride — raising awareness, spreading smiles and hopefully, making a difference.
Together, our team raised just shy of its $1,500 goal, among side the many other Surrey teams that turned out on May 15 including Surrey Firefighters who raised $3,000, the Wheels for Wellness team, which raised more than $5,000, and many more.
Last year more than 70,000 riders in over 200 communities across Canada raised over $8 million for research.
And this month, Heart and Stroke Foundation is launching a new campaign they’re calling #TimeToSeeRed, zeroing in on startling statistics — that heart attack symptoms go unrecognized in more than 50 per cent of women and that two-thirds of clinical research focuses on men.
“Every 17 minutes a woman in Canada dies from heart disease or stroke,” reads a Heart & Stroke tweet. “It’s time to stop women dying unnecessarily.”
For more information, and to donate, visit heartandstroke.ca.