Langley Rivermen’s head coach and GM Burt Henderson, and consequently his family, are pretty good on skates. But they’ll be showing off their aptitude in another sport this weekend.
The family and a dozen or so close friends will join a few hundred other cyclist hitting the streets of Langley on Saturday, June 3 for the 10th yearly Cycle For Sight fundraiser.
It’s a cause very close to the family’s heart, explained Burt’s wife, Christina.
Their children, 17-year-old Ava and 11-year-old Chase, were both diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease when they were six.
It’s a rare genetic eye disease affecting the macula, in which vision loss usually starts in childhood but for some it doesn’t start until adulthood.
“The diagnosis had come as a complete shock as there is no family history of any vision loss. It took us a year after Ava was diagnosed before we were able to become involved as we both needed time to process and figure out what this meant for our family going forward,” Christina shared.
When they did get involved with Vision Quest and Fighting Blindness Canada in 2013, the organization was searching for volunteers to help launch a new Cycle for Sight fundraiser on the West Coast in spring 2014.
“My husband, Burt, nor myself have ever ridden a road bike. But we are a very sporty family so figured this was the best way to get involved,” recalled Christina.
That first year, she joined the organizing committee and Burt rode.
After that, they both became riders and it’s been 10 years. Simultaneously, Christina started co-chairing the event about five years ago and then became chair three years ago.
They’ve also engaged others close to them, getting them involved in the fundraiser – be it at the event, behind the scenes at the committee level, or as part of their biking team called the Hendo’s Heroes.
“My parents have been cooking for the luncheon for nine years. They make lasagnas and alternate between burgers and sausages.,” Christina said, noting her sister and sister-in-law are also on the committee.
“My entire family is involved with putting on the lunch, either by preparing the food weeks beforehand. It is all homemade cooking and serving at the event, and donating all food so that there is no cost incurred. We have many family and friends that bake homemade healthy treats for the riders to enjoy on the day,” she shared.
Their giving doesn’t end there.
Hendo’s Heroes raises on average $30,000 each year, last year the group of 15 raised in excess of $47,000 and they are challenging each other to surpass that this year.
Christina and Burt are typically the top fundraisers for Cycle for Sight West Coast, which is expected to raise more than $180,000 in 2023.
So, why do the Hendersons do it? They do it for Ava and Chase.
Ava is a competitive dancer with DanceForce studio in Coquitlam.
She is graduating from high school this year and will attend Douglas in the fall in the psychology program. She has a part-time job at a local restaurant as a hostess.
Chase is a AAA hockey player and basketball player.
He is in Grade 6 and plays on the school volleyball and basketball teams.
“He loves all sports,” Mom noted.
But they also do it for others, too.
They do it in support of advancing vision research and bringing hope to the estimated 1.2 million Canadians living with vision loss.
“Having Fighting Blindness Canada and its supporters on our side means the world to our family,” explained Christina.
Saturday’s ride begins and ends at West Langley Hall (9400 208th St.)with the event getting underway at 7:30 a.m., with introductions and warm-up begin at 8 a.m., and the first cyclists depart at 8:15 a.m.
With ride distance options ranging from 30 km, 60 km, 90 km, to 120 km, the event is a challenging and fun one-day ride, culminating in a finish line celebration party that is expected to wrap up about 2:30 p.m., Christina said.
To register or sign up to volunteer for the event, people can visit the website at cycleforsight.ca.
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