When Gerry and Shirley Malnis decide to do something, they don’t mess around.
The Vernon couple will be among a small number of people cycling from coast to coast as part of the bi-annual Love in Motion fundraiser.
Cyclists started out from Vancouver June 30, with some riding to Vernon while others plan on pedaling the entire distance across one of the geographically largest countries in the world. The ride ends in Aug. 30 in Halifax.
“It has been an amazing journey thus far as we traverse this awesome country,” said Gerry, on the road from Toronto. “The people we have met along the way have been friendly, generous and hospitable.
“The people in the small towns have been such an encouragement as they were excited as the group cycled through.”
This was Warren Yablonksi’s first time riding with Love in Motion. An avid cyclist, the Vernon resident rode from Vancouver to the Okanagan during the first week of the two-month-long endeavor.
“We are raising money for people who need help across Canada,” said Yablonski, adding the participants can ride for a week or the entire trip.
Local physiotherapist Steve Witvoet, along with his wife Allison and daughter Bryn, will join the ride in New Brunswick for the last week of the tour.
Love in Motion is designed to raise support and awareness for projects aiding vulnerable and at-risk people. Various projects affiliated with Christian and Missionary Alliance churches across Canada will benefit from the funds raised by the ride.
Shirley said the goal of the Vernon riders is to collect $23,000 towards these projects, one of which is the expansion of the Arbour ministry at Vernon Alliance Church.
“The Arbour is a place where the city’s vulnerable can go to find a caring community,” she said. “It offers a variety of programs that the money from the ride will help to expand.”
Anyone is welcome to come for the community services like a flu clinic or income tax return support, or even to visit with the parish nurse or chaplain on site.
“We raised funds ourselves to go on the ride,” said Yablonksi.
Donations can also be made to the VAC Riders online at www.loveinmotion.ca or at Vernon Alliance Church. A list of projects and the cities they are in can also be found on the website.
Shirley said she and Gerry chose to make the grueling summer journey because they have a desire to help those in need.
“Justice and compassion (the theme of the 2014 ride) are really close to our hearts,” said Shirley, as Gerry scurried around making sure everyone was getting fed at the end of the first week’s ride.
As if pedaling some of the largest mountain ranges in North America were not enough of a challenge, many of the riders will be carrying wooden blocks with them.
Vernon participant Lora Fellenz said each block has the name of a person inscribed on them and represent people who have died on the mean streets of the North Central area of Regina, identified as one of the worst neighbourhoods in Canada.
“The idea is we share and carry each other’s burdens,” said Fellenz.
Some 300 cyclists will take part in the ride before it is over, raising money for programs that help the homeless, drug addicted and other marginalized people.
For more information, see www.loveinmotion.ca