It was a special day as two brave children and their families met a special group of caring motorcycle riders on Sunday, August 9, 2020.
The 12th annual Ride for Sick Kids had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, but a convoy of over 70 caring motorcycle riders stopped at a home in Elizabethville in the Municipality of Port Hope and another in Courtice in Durham Region to support two brave children.
Usually the Ride for Sick Kids has approximately 600 motorcycle riders taking part, but this year had to be different – but it was still very special for two families, along with the riders.
The first stop for the group was at the home of seven-year-old Arianna Yarema, who has an older sister Lillian and is the daughter of Kristin and Adam on County Road 65 in Elizabethville.
Arianna had been selected to be the 2020 ride’s official Ambassador Child. When she was 10 months old, the team at the Hospital for Sick Children administered her first angioplasty. Arianna has five heart conditions, has had four open heart surgeries, this coming Friday will be her 11th catheterization.
Kristin said she was apart of the Ride for Sick Kids last year and it put her to tears the amount of support given to children, their families and to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
Her mother says that Arianna has been counting down the days waiting for Sunday.
“She’s been barely able to sleep this entire week, trying to get her to go to sleep earlier and earlier.”
Arianna was presented with a number of gifts from sponsors by the rider organizer Nella Figliano including a leather motorcycle jacket with the Sick Kids logo on the back along with the words “Heart Warrior.”
The riders had a lunch at the Yarema home and then it was off to the next stop visit at 22-month-old Nathan, known as “Super Nate,” and his parents home Justin Hutchison and Crystal Costante in Courtice.
Nate was treated for two lung diseases he was born with. Nate needed a double lung, pulmonary vein and partial heart transplant at 10-months old. 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. Nate now has 10,000 bravery beads, one for each procedure he has received at Sick Kids.
Nate’s parents have created a “Gratitude Garden” in front of their home, “in loving honour of our donor family.”
When the riders came, they added two bags full of rocks to the garden.
At both homes, the children were the stars of the event with people taking photos of the children and family members.
Over the course of 12-years, Figliano and her amazing team of sponsors and riders has raised over $560,000 for the hospital.
Since there was no official ride this year, Figliano wanted to raise money for families.
Figliano is the mother of three, healthy children, but she works with children with special needs.
“All my students have been in and out of Sick Kids. Some of them spend most of their life at Sick Kids and that was the whole reason for me starting it.”
Riding to each families home, Figliano said it was a “different” feeling then for the past 11 years with the Ride.
“This one here is very special because it’s that connection with the family.”
With over half-a-million dollars raised on support of Sick Kids Hospital, the riders are aware they are helping families, “but I love the fact that this can be one on one with the family. The feeling is just amazing.”
“Every year I walk away with such a amazing feeling, but this year I have to say you know exactly where it’s (money) going.”
For anyone wishing to make a donation at rideforsickkids.com, and follow the event on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.