Optimist Club

Annual bike rodeo still busy, despite wet conditions

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Even though there was rain and damp conditions last Sunday, the annual bike rodeo still proved to be popular.

The annual event was presented at Families First Funeral Home and saw cyclists dodge the rain drops as well as the objects in the obstacle course. The event was presented with many partners, including the Amherstburg Police Service, the Amherstburg Community Based Policing Committee, Families First, Bike Windsor-Essex, Canadian Tire, Sobeys, the Optimist Club, the Rotary Club, Little Buddies Daycare, Bright Child Montessori, Meloche’s No Frills and Lakeside Produce.

Brett Severin assists Ryan Sprague through the obstacle course at Sunday’s bike rodeo

Const. Steve Owen, the community services officer with Amherstburg police, said they had 76 pre-register and were hoping to match the 130 children that came out last year. Just shy of 100 were reported to have come out for the 2018 event.

Bike helmets were given to people who didn’t have one, lights and bells were handed out, bicycles were checked then ridden through an obstacle course and BMX rider Eric Favot also was on hand for safety talks and demonstrations of what he can do.

“It’s to promote bike safety,” said Owen. “The last thing we want to do is see kids get hurt on their bikes when they are trying to have fun.”

Not only was the bike rodeo a way to learn, but they tried to ensure children and parents had a good time too, Owen added.

Heather Lenson from the Amherstburg Community Based Policing Committee (dark shirt) stands with Emma, Morgan and Joshua Hadfield during the June 10 bike rodeo at Families First Funeral Home.

The Amherstburg Fire Department brought their ladder truck to the event and there was face painting and inflatable rides on hand as well. There were also handouts given to people with bicycle safety tips.

“The last few years, it has grown quite a bit,” Owen said of the bike rodeo.

“I think it’s great,” added Heather Digou, who was with her son Ryan Sprague at the event. “It shows them bicycle safety. They are giving kids all kinds of entertainment. I think it’s awesome.”

BMX rider Eric Favot performs a trick during the bicycle rodeo June 10.

“Families First is proud to work with our partners in community to bring the annual bike rodeo to Amherstburg. It is a great way to have fun and a hands-on approach that teaches children the rules of the road to stay safe on their bikes,” says Brian Parent, president of Families First. “Cycling is a great way for kids to get to school, around town and stay active. Cyclists of all ages will have the opportunity to learn how to be safer by being visible to drivers.”

Polar Bear Dip participants brave cold, biting wind

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Despite cold and windy conditions, a group of hearty souls went into the choppy waters off of Colchester Beach all in the name of charity.

The Amherstburg Optimist Club and the Harrow Kinsmen Club teamed up again this year to present the 14th annual Polar Bear Dip with an estimated 35 participants briefly hitting the water. While the Dec. 10 swim was brief, the results could have lasting effects.

Members of the Amherstburg Optimist Club and Harrow Kinsmen Club head for the water during the recent Polar Bear Dip in Colchester.

Members of the Amherstburg Optimist Club and Harrow Kinsmen Club head for the water during the recent Polar Bear Dip in Colchester.

Optimist Club president Brandon Renaud said they had already raised $1,300 as of the Saturday afternoon of the event with more money expected to be turned in during the coming days. The 35 participants was a good number, he said, as the clubs got off to a late start in planning the event this year.

Local families will be the recipients of the Optimist Club’s proceeds as they will look to sponsor families this year at Christmas and purchase toys for the children of those in need.

“We’re hoping to sponsor as many as we can get,” said Renaud.

The Optimist Club sponsored one family in 2015, but Renaud pointed out it was a large family with several children. The Harrow Kinsmen will use their share of the proceeds for projects in their community.

Many of the dippers were returnees with others doing it for the first time. Most do it out of sense of community spirit, Renaud believed.

“Freeze for a few minutes to help a family in need or support a community project,” he said.

Keith Bridgen emerges from the water after the Polar Bear Dip.

Keith Bridgen emerges from the water after the Polar Bear Dip.

“I think the know they are doing something good,” added fellow Optimist Club member Eugene Bryksa.

The Optimist Club gets the families to help thanks to assistance from the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission, Renaud stated.

Renaud also expressed thanks to Keith Bridgen, owner of the Shooter’s Roadhouse location in Harrow, and his staff for their help. Renaud was also grateful to all the donors and sponsors of the event.

“Every year, we hope to make it bigger and better,” he said. “With the community’s support, we can make it bigger.”

Bike rodeo teaches young riders the rules of the road

by Jonathan Martin

Amherstburg police, Rotary Club members and Optimist Club volunteers turned their collars against Saturday’s unseasonably cool mist while teaching children about bike safety.

Amherstburg’s bike rodeo, which was created by the Optimist Club in the mid-’90s, is hosted annually. For the past few years, it has been held at Centennial Park’s running track.

Two-year-old Teddy Jacob rides his tricycle on Centennial Park's track at the 2016 Amherstburg Bike Rodeo May 14. Amherstburg police, Rotarians and members of the Optimist Club spent the day teaching children how to stay safe while they ride. (Photo by Jonathan Martin)

Two-year-old Teddy Jacob rides his tricycle on Centennial Park’s track at the 2016 Amherstburg Bike Rodeo May 14. Amherstburg police, Rotarians and members of the Optimist Club spent the day teaching children how to stay safe while they ride.
(Photo by Jonathan Martin)

This year, volunteers handed out safety equipment like helmets and reflectors, taught children the rules of the road and presented blue ribbons to those who completed an obstacle course.

Brandon Renaud has been a involved with the Optimist Club for around 15 years and served as club president for the past five. He said the rodeo was shut down for a few years in the early 2000s because membership was down and gathering enough volunteers to run it was difficult.

Now that the rodeo is back up and running, Renaud said he’s reminded of why it was started in the first place.

“We’ve got to make sure all these kids know what they’re doing,” he said. “That way, if they’re out in traffic they know all the proper signals, what side of the road to be on, make sure their bikes are all lit up so cars can see them and know what to do so there are no incidents.”

The rules of the road were taught to young cyclists by local police. As the children rolled across the track, men and women in uniform showed them how to signal, how to check their surroundings and then congratulated them when they succeeded.

Amherstburg police Const. Steven Owen, liaison to the Amherstburg Community Based Policing Committee, said congratulations are in order for the program’s success.

“We want to be sure children know the rules of the road as they get older, so we start at a young age,” he said.   “Along with the education, we encourage kids to have fun on their bikes, be active and lead a healthy lifestyle. We want them to enjoy it.”

Amherstburg police chief Tim Berthiaume and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo joined Rotarians, Optimists, and other police officers (including Const. Steve Owen, left) at the bike rodeo at Centennial Park May 14.

Amherstburg police chief Tim Berthiaume and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo joined Rotarians, Optimists, and other police officers (including Const. Steve Owen, left) at the bike rodeo at Centennial Park May 14.

Amherstburg’s Rotary Club worked alongside the police and the Optimist Club during the event. Rotarians handed out helmets, reflectors, bike locks and streamers to young cyclists. Rotary president-elect Laura George-Jurilj said she sees the effectiveness of bike safety education.

“In this day and age, kids don’t know any different than to wear a helmet because that’s just how they were raised,” George-Jurilj said. “I think we, as adults, need to be an example of being responsible and give our kids the tools to have fun on their bikes.”

Ted Jacob’s two children, Chloe, 4, and Teddy, 2, have been riding tricycles since they were a year old. Jacobs said the bike rodeo was an excellent way for his children to receive the tools they need, but was also a chance to become familiar with police officers.

“I want them to know that police are friends,” Jacobs said. “I also heard there was a bouncy castle.”

Chloe made her favourite part of the even perfectly clear.

“Bouncy castle!” she cried.

Bike rodeo being held at Centennial Park this Saturday

A bike rodeo is being held this Saturday as another way to help keep local children safe.

The event will be at the Centennial Park track from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and it will feature helmet inspections, bicycle safety equipment, bike decorating, lessons on rules of the road, practical riding exercises, and a guided ride.

Helmets are mandatory for all riders. A limited number of helmets will be available for those who need them.

There will also be a bouncy castle, face painting, a barbecue and emergency vehicle displays.

The event is being presented by Amherstburg police, the Rotary and Optimist Clubs, Canadian Tire, Sobeys, No Frills, Little Buddies pre-school, Lakeside Produce and Bright Child Montessori.

 

Optimists, Habitat for Humanity holding e-waste recycling event April 30

 

Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex and the Optimist Club of Amherstburg are teaming up once again on another e-waste collection day.

The Amherstburg Optimist Club and Habitat for Humanity will be hosting an e-waste recycling event this Saturday at Sobeys.

The Amherstburg Optimist Club and Habitat for Humanity will be hosting an e-waste recycling event this Saturday at Sobeys. (Optimist Club Facebook photo)

The two organizations will be at Sobeys, 83 Sandwich St. S., this Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. collecting unwanted electronics and computer items. There is no charge for residents who wish to drop off items.
Items that can be recycled include computers, laptops, monitors, keyboards, fax machines, copiers, VCR’s, DVD players, phones/cell phones, TV’s, radios, stereos, microwaves, toasters, convection ovens, speakers, printers and paper shredders.