Boomer’s Legacy bike ride honours Fallen

A bike ride like no other, the Boomer’s Legacy British Columbia Bike Ride (BLBC) is a two-day ride along the western coast of Canada that culminates in the remembrance of Canada’s fallen. Held in early June, the BLBC Bike Ride is inspired by the memory of Cpl. Andrew “Boomer” Eykelenboom.

Registration is now open for the bike ride that gathers together a mix of veterans, community members and still serving members each year.

Starting bright and early, riders hit the road at Canadian Forces Base Comox to make their 240 k.m. journey to Victoria. Before making the journey, however, riders stop at the Courtenay Civic Cemetery to honour the memory of Eykelenboom, who was killed in 2006 by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

Escorted by the Canadian military police and Canadian Army Veteran motorcyclists, the pack makes it’s way along the coast, taking breaks every hour in small towns along the way.

After spending the night in Nanaimo, the group gets an early start again on the second day to complete the final leg of the ride to Victoria.

The ride is unmistakably held to recognize the fallen heroes of Canada. Each rider is given a bio card with a picture of a fallen soldier. These cards are zip-tied to the bikes throughout the ride. Post dinner, after the completion of the race, a ceremony is held to recognize each person on the bio card. The cards are then posted on a wall of remembrance.

“It’s a bit of a sober reminder of why we’re doing the ride,” said David Berry, co-chair of the organizing committee for the BC ride.

Another big part of the ride is raising funds for the Boomer’s Legacy Trust Fund.

“The importance is that it provides a venue for soldiers sailors airmen and women to do something in the community in which they work live or deploy to. It doesn’t require a great deal of bureaucracy that was the whole impetus behind boomer’s legacy was this soldier’s vision,” explained Berry.

Eykelenboom was known for his generosity to others, something he displayed even while deployed to Afghanistan.

“Andrew was a medic, obviously, and deployed with the Patricia’s. While he was out there walking in the fields of south Afghanistan, the Kandahar province, he’d be handing out stuff to the kids that he saw, that was just his nature. So his mother [Maureen Eykelenboom] was always sending things to give out to the kids, and it made him feel good to do something for the kids,” said Berry.

Following in his footsteps, the Boomer’s Legacy Trust Fund allows soldiers to use funds for small projects to help communities, typically communities they are deployed to. Some of the projects that have been funded include buying a flock of sheep for a farmer who’s flock was destroyed by a bomb, $5,000 for an orphanage and developing midwifery kits to decrease the infant and mother mortality rates. The projects have spanned to other countries besides Afghanistan like Romania, Jamaica and Sierra Leone.

Berry says the projects also benefit the overall well-being of deployed troops as well.

“The benefit is the troops, soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, they get a great feeling from it. They’ve been able to contribute to the benefit and welfare for a group that is underprivileged or having a rough time,” noted Berry.

Each year Boomer’s Legacy is able to raise anywhere from $50,000 upwards. Berry estimates that over the years the number is close to one million dollars.

Now under the wing of Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services under Support Our Troops, the ride also takes place annually in Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia ride will be held on June 19.

Visit  BC Boomer’s Legacy Ride to register.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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