(group photo was from ride last August)
By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
The COVID-19 version of what would have been the 12th annual Ride for Sick Kids will not exactly be the procession of hundreds of roaring motorcycles that turned out in 2019 (and will be welcomed back in 2021).
But the support is still there, and a smaller convoy of participants will make the journey August 9 with two important stops on a route that leaves Maple at 10 a.m. – at Arianna’s home in Elizabethville and at Nathan’s home in Courtice.
A 1 p.m. arrival is planned for the home of seven-year-old Arianna, the young lady who had been selected to be the 2020 ride’s official Ambassador Child. She was 10 months old when the team at the Hospital for Sick Children administered her first angioplasty. Along with her parents Kristin and Adam Yarema, her medical team has been a supportive presence at her side through four open-heart surgeries and annual catheterizations – inspiring her to dream of being a doctor and helping other children when she grows up.
With her latest catheterization postponed from the spring due to the pandemic, Arianna will be back at Sick Kids Aug. 11 for the procedure – making the visit a send-off as well as a salute.
By 3 p.m., they should be visiting 22-month-old Nathan, known as Super Nate, who has been in and out of Sick Kids all his life with parents Justin Hutchison and Crystal Costante at his side. Over the course of treating the two lung diseases he was born with, doctors realized he needed a double lung, pulmonary vein and partial heart transplant. Miraculously, he received this greatest gift anyone could receive in a 12.5-hour operation.
His recovery had some complications, but his Sick Kids team saw him through. He is now the owner of 10,000 bravery beads, one for each procedure he has received at Sick Kids.
Nella Figliano, who began the ride 12 years ago, will be along for the visits. She looks forward to a peek at each child’s special tokens of hope. Arianna has her own string of bravery beads, each of which represents a needle poke she’s had, and Nathan has a wonderful collection of colourful stones that make up his gratitude garden.
Figliano remains active in this annual ride to this day. As a teacher of students with learning disabilities, she had occasion to learn from more than one of these young people of the important work they do at the Hospital for Sick Children and the caring, professional way they see each child through his or her own special journey.
“Highlighting the stories of children like Arianna and Nate reminds us of the phenomenal work that is being done every day at Sick Kids,” she said in the press release.
“Each patient and family has their own story, and it motivates the organizers to make the Ride for Sick Kids better each year. They are sad to have to postpone this year’s ride, but are so excited to be able to still celebrate by doing a special ride-by.”
Over its 11 years, the ride has raised more than $560,000. This year – regardless of COVID challenges – Figliano hopes to take it over the $1-million mark.
You can help by making a donation at rideforsickkids.com, and follow the event on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.