Rick Bernard (Aaron Hall)

A Wallaceburg man is giving back to the Ronald McDonald House and he is jumping on his bicycle to do it.

Rick Bernard told the Sydenham Current he has wanted to give back to the London-based organization ever since his twin boys, Max and Joe, were born six-weeks premature.

“So I wanted to give back and I have always thought of a way that would be big and kind of community oriented,” he said.

“So when I turned 40, I thought ‘well let’s strike the bucket list off.’ I thought about the bike ride and said ‘what the heck, let’s do it’.”

Bernard said his plan is to ride his bicycle from Wallaceburg, all the way to the Ronald McDonald House in London.

“I don’t really have a set location here in town that I am going to take off from, but to start there will be a kick off ceremony in the morning and I’ll have the kids come around with their bikes and they can lead me off to the edge of town. I am going to take it from there and ride the rest of the way.”

Bernard said he figured it will take him between six and eight hours to complete the trip, which he plans to complete on Saturday, August 19.

He isn’t an avid cyclist, but he is doing some training in preparation for the big day.

“I like it but it’s just a leisure bike ride is all I have done,” he said.

“I have done some training at Southside Fitness in town. Also now that the weather is nice too I have been cycling around town trying to build up the endurance. That’s the biggest thing. I mean it’s not a race. I want to get from A to B, so that’s what I am working on.”

He said his boys are excited about it all.

“They are going to start here in town and lead me out and then when I get maybe two blocks from the Ronald McDonald House they are going to jump back out of the vehicle and finish it with me. So they are pretty excited about that part. At first I think they thought they were going to do the whole thing.”

Ronald McDonald House was a big help

Bernard said the Ronald McDonald House made a difficult situation a little easier for his family.

“The boys had the normal complications of being premature,” he said.

“The one had a diaphragmatic hernia that was diagnosed in the womb so he was required to be on a ventilator immediately at birth. At three days old he had to have reconstructive surgery to have that repaired.”

He said both boys spent about eight weeks in the hospital in London.

“As a result we used the Ronald McDonald house in London to stay,” he said.

“I can’t say enough about the place. It’s just fantastic. They don’t make you feel that way, but you feel like you are forever in debt to them. The reception that you get there is second to none from the volunteers and staff. For as little as $10 a night you have hotel accommodations if not better. Meals, laundry. I mean you do it yourself but they have all of that supplied there for you to do. You are about a 30 second walk from the door to the hospital to go see your loved ones.”

Bernard added: “It’s a place that is run solely on volunteering and donations base. It is amazing to see how well it runs.”

Raising some funds

Bernard said they are organizing a fundraising dinner at the Moose Lodge on June 3, with the proceeds going towards the Ronald McDonald House.

The event is going to be catered by the Burns Family Restaurant in Dresden, and they will be serving their broasted chicken dinner. There will also be a DJ afterwards and many door prizes.

Tickets are $25.

Bernard said there are other sponsorship opportunities available

“It’s nice to see that I am not alone thinking that it is a amazing charity and a lot of people are stepping up,” he said.

“I think it has affected a lot of families, even just from in town. It’s a bitter sweet experience because obviously you are there for not a very good reason, but the experience that you walk away with it something you will remember forever.”

To help support the cause, message Bernard on Facebook, by clicking here.

For more details about the Ronald McDonald House, click here.

– Photo credit: Aaron Hall

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