2012 Battle for a Cause

That is London Firefighter Simon Dearing behind the Mexican wrestling match as he pedals during the Clash for a Cause at Masonville Mall. Dearing was one of dozens of folks that rode for part of 24 hours to raise money for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre.
(Photo taken by: Jacob Robinson, the Londoner)

Clash for a Cause rasises money for Neonatal Unit

Hockey icon Don Cherry has often called service men and women among the greatest people in the world, and there’s a very good reason for that.

Not only do they spend their days working for the greater good of the public, they often lend a hand during their free time as well.

“We’re so grateful for the London Police and London Fire for doing this and just thinking about the greater community and wanting to come together to do something,” said Children’s Health Foundation community relations director during the Clash for a Cause at Masonville Mall Friday. “They’re really committed for raising funds.”

Friday marked the annual event that sees local police, firefighters and other service groups and organizations ride stationary bikes for 24 straight hours with funds going towards the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre.

Scores of folks that spend much of their time helping the public were pedaling away for hours at a time in friendly competition see who can rack up the most miles.

“We (get) uncomfortable and sore butts but it gives a very young, small child a chance,” said London fireman and co-coordinator Bob Geilen. “We’re fighting to give them the chance to live. It’s a great cause, if you ever have a chance to go to the NICU, it’s heart wrenching to see kids who are the size of Barbie dolls.”

As Geilen’s organizing partner in crime, Const. Julia Piening of the London Police Department had a recent experience at the hospital that reinforced the whole reason for the seemingly gargantuan task.

“Last year I was six months pregnant and I was able to take a tour in the NIC unit,” she explained. “It really hit home why we’re doing this and it pales in comparison doing 24 hours on a bike. You focus on that and that’s your goal.’

When local firefighter and biking enthusiast Simon Dearing decided to sign up for the inaugural running of event, he was going to put in the customary hour on the bike, but quickly began to push for more. Eventually he decided to ride for entire Clash for a Cause, setting a standard most can’t even fathom.

“I had my bike set up and the other fire guys had theirs right beside me, so they would come in and we’d chit chat and the time would go pretty quick. It was good having all my buddies come in and ride beside me,” he said.

“It was really hard, it makes you appreciate what other people would go through all the time. I was doing it because I wanted to and there’s people that are suffering with the causes that we support that have no choice. I could’ve gotten off and stopped anytime, so it was kind of an eye opener that, “wow, people are going through a lot worse than I am all the time”.

Things always begin to pick up in the final hour. That’s when Geilen and Piening don their respective uniforms and face off to see who can accumulate the most miles. During the final showdown, a hat for donations is passed around the loser must match the total.

“I’ve never biked as hard as last year,” laughed Geilen.

Last year riders accumulated over $25,000, proving that no one loses despite the friendly team vs. team competition.

“We’re all in it for the same thing,” said Piening. “We’re all a team here and a community is a family and we have to work for that.”

Funds from this year’s ride will go towards state-of-the-art IV monitors that help deliver a specific amount of food and medicine to the babies at the NICU. As one of the few folks on hand that will experience firsthand the reaction of those that benefit from donations, Osborne relayed a message on behalf of her patients.

“Families are just so grateful because as you can imagine, they’re in a crisis situation,” she explained. “They’re just so grateful that this state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line equipment is there for their baby and helping to save those babies’ lives.”

While the government does provide the NICU with plenty of funds, initiatives like Clash for a Cause help with the rest. Added Osborne, “That’s where the community steps in and makes a big difference.”

Jacob.robinson@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @LondonerJacob

via the Londoner