MINDEMOYA – When you get members of the Brothers of the Blade and the Brothers of the Wheel motorcycle clubs together with Community Living clients at the beautiful Timberlane Rustic Lodge, it is a time full of smiles, hugs and best wishes among friends that haven’t seen each other in a year.
“It’s a very special time for us,” stated one of the bikers on hand.
The annual Pennies from Heaven event, where the bikers and (CLM) clients of Manitoulin and Community Living Espanola (CLE) enjoy several great hours together playing games and enjoying a fabulous lunch ,ends with the groups officially donating the funds they have raised since last year’s Pennies from Heaven event to both Community Living (CL) groups.
Among the games the bikers host for the CL clients are the egg race, the potato hunt and the weenie bite. However, the event where the smiles come out in full force was when the bikers took clients on a short ride on their motorcycles.
“First of all I want to thank everyone for coming to our 28th annual Penny Run,” said Bruce Arrowsmith, of the Brothers of the Blade (based in southern Ontario), the main organizer of the annual event. “I want to say a special thank you to our southern brothers who travel from West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee for this and have been coming up here for many years. We thank you profusely for your contributions and help every year.”
Mr. Arrowsmith then provided a history of the event. “About 40 years ago a group of parents outside of Little Current got together after they discovered how difficult a job it was for the Manitoulin Association to raise funds and the government was not providing any funding support. They formed W.I.S.H. (Working in Support of the Handicapped). My parents were an integral part and instrumental in all of this, they helped raise funds by putting out penny jars, sold trinkets and did other fundraising activities. One of the things they were able to do was buy a van for the clients of the Hope Farm at the time.”
“Three of us (Brothers of the Blade) decided we needed to go travel to Manitoulin and visit my parents; my parents put on a big steak dinner for them,” said Mr. Arrowsmith. “The other two guys wanted to give something to my parents in return, and my parents said they could put some pennies in one of the jars for the association. We went back to Richmond Hill and unbeknownst to me, Wally Lottie and Wayne Connor went to the other members of our club and collected pennies, a lot of them. They collected 44 pounds of pennies and brought them to the ferry in South Baymouth, with the note on them labelled ‘Pennies from Heaven,’ and had it presented to my father.”
“The first year we held this event we had 40 guys from the south here, and for the first eight years we held the event at my parent’s in Sheguiandah,” he continued. When his parents passed away W.I.S.H. had been turned over to Mr. Arrowsmith and his club. For the past 10 years the annual event has taken place at Timberlane Lodge. “This year marks our 10th anniversary of holding this event here at Timberlane. We would like to thank Mark and Laura for being such fabulous hosts—they have helped us immensely over the years.”
Every year the two motorcycle clubs receive requests from both the Community Living groups in Manitoulin and Espanola for items they can’t get funding for. Then the two biker groups hold poker runs and other fundraisers during the year to raise money. Mr. Arrowsmith pointed out this year CL Espanola had requested six items, totalling $4,146 that the members were able to collect enough for.’
Pauline, a client from CLE stated, “we love you guys so much and appreciate all your support.”
“Community Living Manitoulin requested funding support to purchase five items, including puzzles, a lawn bowling set, kites, patio sets and two televisions, and again we are happy to announce that we were able to help out to purchase all these items, at $3,075,” said Mr. Arrowsmith.
Tyler Madahbee, a CLM client said, “I would like to say that on behalf of Community Living Manitoulin we thank the Brothers of the Blade and Brothers of the Wheels for your tremendous efforts and support.”
Then plaques were presented to the CLM and CLE winners in each of the games that took place.
Mr. Arrowsmith said that between the two motorcycle clubs, about 75 members from all across Ontario, Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee took part. He stressed, “Timberlane Lodge is a great place to hold this, and this year marks our 10th year here. We started at my parents place the first few years, then went to the Widgawa Lodge for 10 years and then came here. This place is perfect to hold an event like this. And the owners are fabulous—they are great hosts.”
One of the helpers for the lunch, Bill Wall, said, “the first time we hosted this event it was amazing just watching these big bikers looking after and having fun with the Community Living clients. I can tell you they are probably the best group of people to have visit. They are so friendly and at the end of the weekend everything is cleaned up in their cottages.”
Mr. Arrowsmith also announced at the end of the event that, as of this year’s Pennies from Heaven event, “we raised $512,000.”