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Southern Cruisers to take to the roads for Down syndrome group

'It’s so valuable to provide opportunities for our friends with Down syndrome to get together,' said official of Saturday's fundraising event
Kristie and Albert Penfield(1)
Kristie and Albert Penfield will be among those participating in this weekend's Southern Cruisers Riding Club event in aid of the Down Syndrome Association of Simcoe County. Supplied Photo

Local riders are taking to the road this weekend to help raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of Simcoe County.

Among them will be 15-year-old Kristie Penfield, riding on the back of her dad’s motorcycle.

“Our club has been doing fundraisers for years,” said Albert Penfield, who is a member of both the Down Syndrome Association and the Barrie Chapter of the Southern Cruisers Riding Club, which is hosting the event.

Kristie, who has Down Syndrome, is pumped about participating, he added.

It is the second time the fundraising event is being held. The first one, in 2019, raised more than $20,000, said Jeff Tress, one of the organizers.

“We always hope to see 100 bikes,” said Tress. “But you don’t know until that day. It depends on what the weather’s like.”

Riders, who pay $30, with secondary riders paying $20, meet for breakfast at the Barrie Legion for breakfast on Saturday at 10 a.m. and then head out for a 90-minute ride out through Horseshoe Valley, Oro-Medonte, Shanty Bay, and come back to Barrie for a barbecue.

There’s also a raffle and prize table, which will generate more money for the association.

Organizers say they don’t know how many people will participate, but Steelers Restaurant in Elmvale has provided 200 hamburgers with Fox’s Bakery in Barrie also contributing food.

The Cruisers is a family-oriented group which hosts motorcycle rides twice a week — two hours on Wednesday evenings and longer rides through the area on Sundays.

“The riding club is not about the main highways. It’s to do the back roads, enjoy the scenery and have a great time,” said Tress. “It’s all about safe riding, group riding and meeting people.”

The Down Syndrome Association of Simcoe County is a volunteer-driven charity supporting individuals living with Down syndrome and their families all across Simcoe County. Funds raised during the ride go to support a broad range of social events, programs, and bursaries for their 75 member families. 

“It’s so valuable to provide opportunities for our friends with Down syndrome to get together,” said the association’s executive director, Jennifer van Gennip in a statement. “Valuable for them, for their parents, and their siblings to see people with Down syndrome at different ages and stages and to see that they are part of a bigger community that understands their stories.

"We’re very grateful to the Southern Cruisers Riding Club for partnering with us to raise funds to support these events.”