A smile beamed across RCMP Const. Sue Kolibaba’s face as she watched a former drug-addicted jail bird take off on a mission Monday to ensure more kids don’t end up like he was.
Andy Bhatti beamed right back at Kolibaba, as he cycled from Vernon Monday on his way to Vancouver on his Men of Hope Ride for a Reason.
The Langley resident is riding to raise awareness about child sexual abuse – something he was a victim of.
That’s how Bhatti and Kolibaba met in 2006.
Working on sex crimes, Kolibaba was led to Bhatti as one of the potential victims of a suspect she was investigating at the time (and who was later imprisoned).
She still remembers the first time she met Bhatti.
Recently released from jail, he was drug addicted and in rough shape.
Now she beams at the fact that Bhatti’s once offending potty mouth has even disappeared.
“It’s just incredible,” said Kolibaba. “A lot of my victims you don’t even know what’s happened to them or you do and it’s sad.”
Bhatti, now seven-years-clean, is determined to make his ride a success – even if just one kid gets help.
“If I would’ve got help maybe I wouldn’t have spent eight years in jail, maybe I wouldn’t have been a heroin addict,” he said. “If kids from zero to 18 don’t get help then they could end up like I was.”
Which is also why his ride is in support of Sophie’s Place, providing specialized services to physically, mentally or sexually abused children.
As much as he would like to forget his past, Bhatti knows that by sharing his own story he could help others get the help they need.
And even despite not having rode a bike since he was a kid, he is determined to cycle his message all the way to Vancouver.
“I’m persistent and cocky, I’ll do it,” said Bhatti, who is making stops along the way to his final destination in Vancouver Saturday.
For more information visit www.MenOfHope.ca