Lamont French (fourth from l) presents a certificate to Ashcroft Legion bar manager Steve Clark on August 6.

Lamont French (fourth from l) presents a certificate to Ashcroft Legion bar manager Steve Clark on August 6.

Military police motorcycle relay raises money for a good cause

The charity ride raises funds across Canada for visually impaired children.

More than a dozen riders with the Military Police National Motorcycle Relay Ride stopped in Ashcroft on the morning of August 6, where they were hosted by Royal Canadian Legion Branch #113 to coffee, water, juice, and light refreshments.

The motorcyclists were taking part in the 8th annual relay, which raises funds for the Military Police Fund for Blind Children (www.mpfbc.com). The charity was established in 1958, and is the only recognized military charity in Canada.

“I built the B.C. portion of the relay in 2009, took a couple of years off in 2014 and 2015, and came back to take over again this year,” says B.C. ride captain Lamont French. The ride started in Victoria on July 31, and went through Abbotsford, Squamish, Pemberton, and Lillooet to Kamloops on the first day, then continued on through Sicamous, Golden, and Lake Louise to Jasper, where national riders and those starying with the ride continued east. The relay concludes in Halifax.

“People meet up with us and join in, then peel off according to their schedules and riding skills,” says French. Two of the riders who started off in Victoria will be continuing the ride to Halifax, and the rest of the group stopped in Ashcroft on their way back home.

“The Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) plays a momentous part logistically,” says French. “They supply lunches, suppers, and breakfasts, and do fundraising and special events. We use the Legions because this is a military event, and the RCL has always been there, for both the military and their communities. We try to give back by drawing people into the Legion and talking about what we do.

“It’s a partnership, and a real win-win. We go back to the same Legions every year. It’s like family.”

Steve Clark, bar manager of the Ashcroft Legion, was on hand to welcome the riders and provide refreshments. He said that branch #113 is hoping to partner with the riders on a future trip through town. French presented Clark with a framed certificate “as a token of appreciation for all that the branch has done for the riders and for the community.”

Lamont French (l) presents a certificate of appreciation to Ashcroft Legion bar manager Steve Clark. Photo by Barbara Roden.

He says that 100 per cent of the funds raised by the riders goes to the MPFBC, which assists visually-challenged children aged 0 to 21 across Canada. He stresses that the charity is for any children with visual impairments, not just those with a connection to the military. The MPFBC sends children to Space Camp in Alabama, where they can spend a week with other visually-challenged children. “We can send children to a comparable program, or help a child who has always wanted to learn to play the piano, for example. It really helps with their self-confidence.

“We can’t fix things, but we can help a person in some way; give them the self-confidence to come into society and contribute or make a difference.”

French encourages anyone who would like to learn more about the charity to contact him at lamontfrench@shaw.ca or at (778) 966-1551.

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