For 13 years, Brant snowmobilers have explored the wilds of Ontario and Quebec to benefit local charities.
This year, the 80 riders taking part in the weeklong Great Northern Ride – which will kick off on Sunday – are expected to raise enough money to fund the Lansdowne Children's Centre's Every Kid Counts program for the entire year. The riders hope to raise $130,000.
“I'm calling these guys our game changers,” said Lansdowne fund development officer Erin Helmer.
Lansdowne has received some funds from the ride each year, but being the main recipient in 2013 will allow the foundation to expand its program.
“We feel truly blessed that (ride organizer) Bob Caissie decided to focus on us this year,” Helmer said.
Getting enough money from one source to support 65 kids through Every Kid Counts doesn't mean the foundation will slow down its fundraising.
“This year, it means we might be able to help 90, 100 kids,” she said.
“It's great for the children,” Caissie said as he prepared to embark on next week's 1,200 km trek.
The riders will travel from Brantford to Chicoutimi, Quebec, enjoying picturesque scenery through snow-covered mountains.
“We know that we've got a pile of snow where we're going,” Caissie said.
The group of 80 riders includes 15 newcomers and some father-son teams.
“The riders feel they're getting value,” Caissie said of the record-high turnout.
Sponsorship of the ride is also at an all-time high, he added.
“Our belief is that we will blow through our goal this year,” Caissie said.
Every Kid Counts helps children and youth with special needs participate in local recreational programs, including summer camps. To donate, visit www.greatnorthernride.com.