Over 30 years ago, while responding to an armed robbery at the Bayshore Shopping Centre in Nepean, Sergeant Robin Easey was shot point-blank and sustained a traumatic brain injury which left him paralysed and blind.
A few years later, his wife, Glennis Easey, and then police psychologist, opened a private clinic for others also experiencing brain injuries. At the time, there weren’t many options to treat brain injuries, and families had to cross the border into the United States to receive treatment.
“It just added chaos to families. (Families) were already in chaotic situations, so they went on to form a clinic, and it resulted in them doing a lot of pro-bono work. They were getting a lot of people coming in, they didn’t have third-party funding,” said Susie Kingsley, Ride for Robin event coordinator. “It was really evident the need for treatment was huge, so they formed an organization called the Wings of Phoenix. The Wings of Phoenix is a charity whose mandate it is to fundraise, that’s all they do.”
With the money raised through Wings of Phoenix, they go into the community and purchase services for those with brain injuries. Kingsley said, over the years they’ve been working more and more with military members in dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries.
“Post-Traumatic Stress isn’t a disorder, it’s a brain injury. Something happened in their life that caused a psychological injury, so those are treated as well,” Kingsley added.
Kingsley runs the entire fundraiser with her boyfriend, retired Warrant Officer Sam Sampson. Sampson is a seven tour Veteran and specialized in precision mapping and remains in charge of mapping out the route and ensuring the safety of all the riders.
In previous years, through the generosity of sponsors, rider fees, and community donations, Ride for Robin has raised almost $30,000. This year, however, Ride for Robin received some significant contributions from corporate sponsors and have surpassed their $10,000 goal for the year.
“This year, I’ve already raised just under $16,000 with seven corporate sponsorships and minimal community donations, and we’re not even at the ride date yet. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited about it,” said Kingsley. “It’s been a big deal for us to have that kind of money come in and then know that all of it’s going to clients, that’s huge! It’s absolutely huge! I’m hoping we can make $20,000 or more.”
This year’s ride will take riders on a 150-mile trip through Manotick, Kemptville, Merrickville, Smith Falls, Stittsville and Richmond, the hometown of Sgt. Easey. Although Sgt. Easey is mostly blind, Kingsley said if someone tells him where he’s going, he can remember the roads, and it’s like a trip down memory lane.
The rider fee to participate in the fourth annual Ride for Robin on September 15, 2018. Passengers are free. This includes a small breakfast and a barbecue lunch at the end of the ride. Kingsley said they have some big-ticket items to raffle off this year such as winter tires and a Top Prospects Coach’s jersey from Brian Kilrae, signed by Don Cherry and Eric Lindros.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind, and it has significance because of the Lindros brothers’ tie-in,” Kingsley added.
Eric and his brother, Brett Lindros, are members of the Ontario Brain Injury Association.
“Both of the brothers became big advocates for raising awareness around what was brain injury and what could it do to you,” said Kingsley.
For more information on how you can register for Ride for Robin, please visit their website here.