Since its 2008 inception, the Ride to Fight ALS has brought together hundreds of cyclists and has generated over 1.6 million dollars, thus making it one of the Society’s flagship events. Luc Vilandré, Dominic Delambre and Michel Simard are among a long list of committed volunteers who have managed to propel this cycling challenge forward. Helmets on and furiously riding their bikes, they are leading the pack heads down, fueled by the hope to find a solution at the finish line.
Luc Vilandré: “When you aim far and work hard, anything is possible”
In 2004, the news that Pierre, Luc Vilandré’s oldest brother, was dreading had been confirmed: he had ALS. “Pierre was always very courageous. He never felt sorry for himself. When he learned he had ALS, he did everything he could to spend as much time as possible with his family,” shares Luc. Without hesitation, Luc immediately got involved with the Society, first by joining its Board of Administration. Only four years later, the disease took his brother. Pierre was barely 60 years old. Convinced that “when you aim far and work hard, anything is possible,” Luc found in those difficult moments the strength to find a solution for this terrible illness. In 2008, he organized the first edition of the Ride to Fight ALS in collaboration with the Society. The event, which involved a handful of cyclists, has become over the past ten years an annual gathering for many. “There are now over a hundred participants. If thousands of people got involved, each by putting in a little effort, raising a little bit of money, we could change the world. We would find an answer, we would find a cure.” Now chair of the Society’s Board of Administration, Luc believes that concrete action makes a difference. “Take part in an activity. Talk to people living with ALS and their caregivers. They are so grateful for the support we provide. We give them hope and they bring a smile to our faces. This is what we get back and it is priceless.”
Dominic Delambre: “The most beautiful cycling fundraising event in Quebec”
In 2008, Dominic Delambre was invited by the Society to take part in the first edition of the Ride to Fight ALS. Already familiar with the neurodegenerative disease that had taken his dad André two years earlier, Dominic decided to register, bought an old bike and trained for a few days. During his first experience, Dominic noticed some shortcomings and decided to address them. “From that moment on, I told Luc that, if I came back the following year, I would take care of the routes! I never thought I would put together routes for the following nine years – 27 of them!” The Treasurer of the Society’s Board of Administration is proud of what the cycling event has become: funds raised annually have grown from $30,000 to more than $400,000. “We have lost the more family-oriented aspect of the event to make room to a better structured, and better organized event. It simply is one of the most beautiful cycling fundraising events in Québec, I really believe that!” According to Dominic, the gathering could never take place without the assistance of volunteers, whose active participation helps further the Society’s mission: “The disease is so much better known now than it was 13 years ago. Thirteen years ago, most people, even general practitioners, simply did not know about the disease or had no idea how to diagnose it.” The chartered accountant is eagerly waiting to start the Ride on August 25th, which will give him a chance to see those who have made a difference in his life. “At the Society, I have found exceptional people from whom I have learned so much, who have made me grow. Each in their own way, Luc and Claudine have had an important impact on my life, they gave me a lot in this adventure.”
Michel Simard: “volunteers are largely responsible for the success of the cycling challenge”
Michel Simard became familiar with ALS during his mother’s long two-year fight against the disease. This difficult reality motivated him to take part in the Ride to Fight ALS for the first time in 2010. That is where he met the event’s two co-founders, Luc Vilandré and Dominic Delambre. “Through this event and my experience on administrative boards, I was asked to join the Society’s Board of Administration”, explains Michel, who is now the Board’s secretary. In addition to his functions as an administrator, he brings to the Ride his expertise as a volunteer certified cycling escort with Vélo Québec. “I volunteered to ensure safety and provide first aid. I enjoy being involved with these aspects of the event.” As he gets ready to cross the finish line for the seventh time this August, Michel is continuously impressed by the quality of the cycling event. “Because the event takes place over three days, participants have an opportunity to share their experience with the disease, whether they live with it, are a caregiver or are only touched by the disease. Many experienced cyclists consider it to be one of the best organized events and the majority of them come back year after year.” Furthermore, Michel believes that volunteers are largely responsible for the success of the cycling challenge. “Their assistance is precious and allows us to reduce the costs associated with the event, which means that we can generate the most funds possible for those living with ALS.” Michel Simard will once again put his certified cycling escort jersey for the 10th edition of the Ride, ready to contribute to its success one more time.