Tour de Meldrum Bay raises record amount for hospital

Tour de Meldrum Bay organizer Dale Scott hands MHC president and CEO Lynn Foster a donation worth close to $11,000 for its emergency department renovation and expansion project. The riders said they hope to raise $20,000 next year.

Renovation/expansion project is a step closer to getting approval

MINDEMOYA – The 19th annual Tour de Meldrum Bay event took place recently and the Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) received $10,712.50 toward its Mindemoya site emergency department expansion and renovation, with the public fundraising campaign for that project to get underway in the coming months.

“We had very nice weather, not much wind—especially against us. It was a lovely tour,” said organizer Dale Scott. The Tour de Meldrum Bay is an annual bicycle trip from Mindemoya to Meldrum Bay, with an optional dinner, overnight stay and return ride the next day. The ride has always raised money for the Mindemoya hospital, either for its equipment fund or for its building needs.

This year’s total is the greatest amount ever raised by the riders. It was originally driven by family, friend and co-worker donations who would pledge a flat amount or a price per kilometre. The riders have since expanded to asking area businesses for support, with many contributing every year.

“It’s evolved very well over the years and it’s become a fairly well-organized ride now. We have breaks every quarter of the way and lunch is served. We make it an enjoyable ride,” said Mr. Scott, who stressed that the event is not intended to be a race. The rider count for 2019 was 26, with 36 present for the dinner portion.

MHC president and CEO Lynn Foster said this funding will be used toward the board-approved expansion and renovation of the emergency department at the Mindemoya hospital site. She added that the fundraising committee is meeting in September to start preparing for the public campaign to raise funds for the project.

“We were very pleased that the Tour de Meldrum Bay has agreed to contribute at this very early stage to the (expansion/renovation) effort,” said Ms. Foster. “Next year will be the 20th year and we’re looking forward to having a fair MHC representation at the event. We’re hoping to get some mangers involved and do a relay.”

Beyond the financial contribution itself, Ms. Foster said the donation speaks to the strength of community spirit on Manitoulin Island.

“It’s a very nice gesture of solidarity for the Manitoulin community. It shows their appreciation and highlights the importance that the hospital brings to the community,” she said.

Ms. Foster added that she heard some promising news from provincial authorities last week about the proposed hospital expansion.

“The Northeast LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) has endorsed the expansion and has passed it up to the Health Capital Investment Branch of the Ministry of Health. They have acknowledged receipt and will review the project and get back to us on the next steps,” she said.

Mr. Scott said he already has a vision for next year’s 20th anniversary ride.

“To mark 20 years, I’ve laid down a challenge to raise $20,000. This year (2019) was the most we’ve ever raised, but you always have to have a vision and a goal,” said Mr. Scott, who said next year’s goal of doubling the fundraising was ambitious, but within the realm of possibility.

“I think it is quite doable. If we start a bit earlier and go after the corporate donations it would certainly be nice, but even donations of five, 10 or 20 dollars from the public make a difference, too,” he said.