Big Bike needs big participation to keep rolling in Highlands
By Darren Lum
Published Jan. 28, 2020
The 30-person Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Big Bike may have been taken for its last ride in the Highlands last year, if not enough people pre-register in the next few weeks.
As reported by Canoe FM, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is asking for greater participation so expenses related to transportation of the Big Bike and overnight accommodation are covered.
For the event to continue, there needs to be two more groups of close to the seating capacity of the Big Bike in Haliburton and one to two in Minden.
Chairperson of the Haliburton Highlands Stroke Support Group, Lois Rigney has been phoning around, looking to gain participation from organizations.
The Minden Hills resident appreciates the event for the fun of riding (she’s ridden past seven years), help it provides and the money it raises, which funds important research so that, maybe, her children won’t have to suffer.
“Maybe my kids won’t go through this,” she said, referring to her adult son and daughter.
Rigney, a grandmother of three grandsons and one granddaughter, said every seven minutes a person dies of a stroke in Canada, referring to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada is a national, non-profit organization, which funds research, educates and advocates for efforts to combat heart disease and stroke. The organization has also been funding gender equitable research, acknowledging the differences with men and women’s hearts and brains. Past research was based on studies on men, expecting to apply to women.
Big Bike participants must be at least 14 years old. Rigney said the deadline to acquire the necessary support is mid-February. In addition to the foundation funding important research, it also contributes to efforts to bring defibrillators to communities, and offer CPR and first aid programs for first responders.
Rigney knows first-hand how stroke affects loved ones and caregivers.
Her husband and former Minden Hills Reeve Ross Rigney suffered from a stroke, which changed their lives. He later died from cancer. She wonders if there is any truth to a theory that cancer could be connected to stroke. Research being funded by the foundation could reveal that, she said.
“We ride the bike because of the research the Heart and Stroke Foundation is doing to further reduce death from heart and stroke disease,” she said.
Rigney said her support group, which had 10 people out for their most recent meeting, includes people who had endured a stroke as well as their caregivers.
“We discuss caregiver burnout in the group. My goodness when I take them separately into another room and the tears flow. It’s major league what people go through that have been affected,” she said.
In the last two years, the support group has lost five people.
Call Rigney at (705) 286-1765 if you’re interested in participating in Haliburton.
Minden Pharmasave’s Sandra Heywood invites the public to join her in enjoying the experience of riding the Big Bike.
“I don’t think that anyone that rides in it doesn’t have fun,” she said.
Heywood said she’s participated the past seven years and has been joined by members of the Rotary Club of Minden.
She knows the importance of heart research first hand, having a newborn grandson benefit.
Close to three years ago, her grandson Sebastian Havill was the focus of a groundbreaking medical procedure after being diagnosed with a rare heart disease, TGA, or a severe form of transposition of the great arteries. This means the two arteries that connect to the heart are switched and prevents a baby from receiving oxygen upon birth. His life was saved when he received the first ever balloon atrial septoplasty surgery performed in utero to treat his heart defect. Due to unique circumstances requiring surgery before he was born, the surgery was performed while still in his mother’s uterus. It received a lot of media attention, headlining newspaper articles and television news media outlets throughout the province and the country. Once he was born further surgery was needed to correct the heart condition.
Although she rode the Big Bike before her grandson’s experiences, she was further motivated, understanding how research can save lives.
Heywood said anyone interested in joining her can call her at work at Pharmasave (705)286-1220.