Jack Taylor out front in one of several mass starts for the Ride for Refuge

By Jack Taylor

Each year, since 2004, the Ride for Refuge has welcomed cyclists to fundraise for their charitable causes. Birthed by International Teams, and nurtured by the Blue Sea Foundation, the national event attracts thousands of participants who raise awareness for displaced, vulnerable and exploited peoples. Despite adjustments due to Covid 19, I’ll be getting my 15th T-shirt after riding for the refugees at New Hope Community Services since the event opened out west.

This year, on October 3, anything goes.
The https://rideforrefuge.org/freestyle site lists ideas such as walking 5 km; riding 10, 25 or 50 km; facing a fitness challenge; volunteering in the community; hosting a celebration; conquering an outdoor feat; completing an artsy project; running a games day; hosting a foodie fun day; using your skills to give shaves, haircuts, massages; writing or reading to a set goal; in fact, doing anything you think people will support you for.

Donors receive tax receipts within minutes of giving their gift on the website and the luxury of choosing how to distribute your charity is a benefit for those wanting to make a difference. Gifts can be given anytime up until the end of October.

Ann Ball, executive director for New Hope Community Services Society is hoping to walk 260 km starting in July and finishing the last 5 km on Ride Day. She hopes to invite her husband Steve and a few friends to join her bubble for the event. “Why 260 km? It’s approximately 26 km from YVR to New Hope, so it would symbolically represent the distance from arrival in Vancouver to the new home of our 10 refugee families.During September, New Hope is welcoming four new families originating from Myanmar, Ethiopia, Syria and Somalia.

Journey Home Community Association hosted the 2019 Vancouver event and raised over $134,000 for their own charitable work with asylum seekers. 1,000 participants from 131 teams raised $412,000 for 26 different charities in the Richmond Ride. The group is already rallying their base to grow their resources for the year to come. James Grunau and his team use this as their premier donor raising event.

The Ride for Refuge event set $2 million as a fundraising target in Canada and they have over 500 teams and over 1,300 participants already registered to resource 135 charities. Calgary has 18 teams supporting 12 charities so far this year. Edmonton has 37 teams focusing on 15 charities. Vancouver has 72 teams supporting 16 charities. The Fraser Valley has 13 teams supporting 8 charities. While the ride is non-competitive, it is light-hearted fun to watch the scoreboard as you work to meet your goals in relationship to what others are doing. Churches and Christian charities are valid entries to find creative energy to focus on their ministries.

Participants of all ages are welcomed. As a grandparent, I’ve pedaled as far as 25 km with my grandson. Most parents take on a lesser challenge and I’ve seen children as young as three or four pedaling along on the well laid out routes with police presence at major intersections. This year, of course, creative alternatives are the key. My team and I will likely be circling a park and inviting participants to walk or ride the perimeter with us.

Being an outdoor activity, the walk and ride keeps us compliant with Covid-19 social distancing and other safety standards. Those who’ve been cooped up for the past six or seven months might be ready for a little focus on someone else who needs support.

For Charities interested in participating, registration deadline is almost past. Contact Jen Taylor, Director of Charity Development, immediately at 226-868-1874 (Toll Free 1-877-743-3413) or jen@blueseafoundation.org  You can be equipped to offer a virtual event with no previous experience. You will be coached from start to finish. Everything is built for you on a website so that you can recruit and fundraise virtually. Acquire new donors, earn 65%-85% of everything you fundraise at no cost or risk. You will set up your own fundraising hub to run a campaign that will raise awareness of all your charity is doing.  The event is also open to sponsors who wish to assist in local events.

For those who don’t yet have a team, feel free to start one or to join any of those already up and registered. You can register at https://rideforrefuge.org/home . You can also keep track of the scoreboard, social media offerings, and connections through that website.


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Jack Taylor
Author: Jack Taylor

Jack Taylor is the pastor of Faith Fellowship Baptist Church in Vancouver. He is the author of a number of books, including the recent series, The Cross Maker, and a regular contributor to the Light Magazine. https://lightmagazine.ca/2019/10/the-cross-maker-series-by-jack-a-taylor/