Military police rev up to raise money for blind kids

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Nearly 100 members of the Canadian Forces and civilians revved their engines recently to raise money for a worthy cause.

Participants rode on two wheels from Canadian Forces Base Edmonton to 4 Wing Cold Lake and back again — a total of 574 kilometres — on Saturday, Aug. 13, for the third annual Military Police National Motorcycle Relay Ride. Alberta topped the four participating provinces with more than $16,000 raised for the Military Police Fund for Blind Children and the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

Master Cpl. Jeffery Hagan, a military policeman at CFB Edmonton, served as ride captain for the Alberta journey. He said the ride was a relay in a truer sense in years past, but this year, just four provinces participated, each organizing a separate ride locally. That change was engineered in hopes of attracting more riders.

“What we found in the last two years, because it was going from province to province, we felt that it was hard to attract the numbers for riding,” Hagan said. “It was four days in one province, and it’s tough to get someone to commit for four days. So we thought we’d run our own rides.”

Riders in B.C. raised $10,445, while those in Ontario brought in a little more than $2,600. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick combined to raise about $3,000.

The day was capped off for the riders at the Crown and Tower Pub in St. Albert, where a silent auction was held that raised more than $6,000 for the cause, and Hagan was extremely grateful for the pub’s support.

“[The pub owner] did so much for me this year. Without him, I would have lost out on the $6,100 we got out of the [silent auction],” he said. “He helped us out last year when we had a … little function there to raise some money. And this year, he was on board right from the start.”

The Military Police Blind Fund was started in 1957 by Col. Jim Stone, a Canadian Forces veteran from the Korean War, whose daughter Moira suffered from retinoblastoma, a genetically linked cancer of the eyes, and had to have both eyes removed while still a toddler.

“At the academy, they say, ‘You know what? You’re now an MP; you will work somehow, some way, with the Blind Fund,’ because it’s something the military police have carried on all these years,” Hagan said.

But Hagan said his involvement was spurred on more by the bikes than the cause, especially when he was posted to CFB Edmonton.

“I got approached three years ago by a gentleman who had a motorcycle; he said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a bike. There’s a couple of guys who are going to be doing a ride across Canada and they want to know if we can find someone to organize it for them and maybe join them when they’re here in Alberta,’” he said.

“I love bikes. I’ve had a bike since I was eight years old. I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to do that.’”

By all accounts, Hagan’s organizational skills were very much appreciated in this year’s ride, but he had a lot of help.

“The feedback I got from all the riders was that this was a phenomenal ride, it was amazing, it was so well-organized,” he said. “We had the Alberta Sheriffs and the RCMP, who kept every vehicle away from us — not one vehicle broke into our pack, and we’re talking a kilometre and a half of bikes.”

And he hopes it will be bigger and better in 2012.

“We’re going to try to get it sanctioned with the Provost Marshal in Ottawa and if we can get it sanctioned within the Canadian Armed Forces then we will have a budget for it,” he said. “But that’s something that’s got to be voted on at a lot higher than my level.”

For more information on the ride, visit www.mpnmrr.ca. To learn more about the Military Police Fund for Blind Children, visit www.mpfbc.com.

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