||August 31, 2007
Area motorcyclists visit seniors
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
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
||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
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
Heritage Perspective Home Page