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August 31, 2007

Area motorcyclists visit seniors residences


Many of the thousands of motorcyclists in North America are members of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association.  There are chapters in Ontario including North Bay Blue Sky Riders as a part of a Region which includes Manitoulin and Quebec.  Each chapter has regular meetings and events to bring together riders of various bikes for education and socialization.  Many are involved in rides to support various causes.  The North Bay Blue Sky chapter has developed a unique idea - a Goodwill Ride visit to a couple of nursing homes for the enjoyment of the residents. 

Group photo of riders, residents, visitors, and staff at Algonquin Nursing Home

Gilbert Morin visited his father Albert at the Algonquin Nursing Home in Mattawa for years before his dad passed away and Gilbert came up with the idea of his chapter riding to the home to visit the residents.  Four years ago a dozen members with their co-riders made arrangements with the home's activity coordinator to visit, put on a little performance, show their bikes, give some rides and have lunch with interested residents. 

The event brought pleasure to the riders and the residents and the nursing home staff and people visiting the home.  Photos were taken and given to the residents.  The press was interested and the event was reported in the Mattawa Recorder, the Nugget, and on MCTV. 

The fourth annual ride took place Sunday, August 12 with continuing success.  Last year a second location, Casselholme was included. 

Resident trying on helmet while visiting with rider

The riders meet for breakfast and keep to a tight schedule to get to their visitors on time because there is a lot of work getting the seniors outside and ready for the visit.  The riders slowly ride in front of the residents and criss-cross putting on a performance while the co-riders wave.  A couple of co-riding children added to the event this year.  The bikes are then parked carefully so residents can approach and get a good look.  Some climb on board to get the feel of the beautiful machines.  Some get their picture taken beside the bike with the riders.  A few with permission get to have a ride which is an added thrill. 

Several have had past riding experience and some veterans have used bikes in their work.  One lady in her 90s dressed with a bandana, black leather jacket and boots and said she was so excited she had to pinch herself. 

Resident tries sitting in bike    GWRRA photos.

The riders are coached to approach the residents with helmets off and to crouch if the residents are seated and to move them carefully to the bikes.  After a visit they go to a joint lunch followed by more time with the bikes and riders. 

With a second visit to North Bay scheduled the riders leave with military precision and arrive at Casselholme on schedule where a similar visit takes place with ice cream and lemonade this time.  With an early breakfast, a mid afternoon visit for a coffee and the two events it is a 9 to 5 day for the riders who arrive home tired but feeling good about their Goodwill Ride. 

The Blue Sky chapter has made a presentation to other chapters on their event and there is interest in it elsewhere.  The National Gold Wing Road Riders Association has asked for a report on the ride for their national magazine Wing World which goes to over 80,000 members. 

The Blue Sky riders deserve a lot of credit for their generous goodwill initiate that brings pleasure to the seniors and is appreciated by the staff at the homes as seen in the photos here.  It also helps diminish the negative image other riders have created and shows that riding can be a remarkably pleasurable experience at various levels.  You can visit the organization's interesting national website at www.gwrra.org  or the local website at www.gwrra-on-n.org or contact Gilbert Morin at gilbert_morin @hotmail.com

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