Shrewsbury youth rides to help others
By Mary Pritchard, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Colin Bernard said he began riding dirt bikes when he was about 5 years old.
“It’s a deal my dad made with me and my brothers,” he said. “As soon as we took the training wheels off our bikes, we could learn to ride dirt bikes.”
A member of NETRA (New England Trail Riders Association), Colin has been racing dirt bikes for three years all over New England.
One annual event on Colin’s riding schedule is the New England Classic Charity Trail Ride for Cystic Fibrosis. The ride, sponsored by the Merrimack Valley Trail Riders (MVTR), is held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. According to Colin, the speedway donates the use of their facility as the hub of the event with the kids riding a “closed” course while the adults ride trails and roads in the area.
“For the kid’s ride, the first day we ride at Clough State Park, and the second day a generous land-owner allows us to ride on his land.”
This year was the 32nd New England Classic Charity Trail Ride and according to the MVTR website, “In thirty years this ride has donated over one million seven hundred thousand dollars [90 cents of every dollar going directly to research].”
Colin, 12, has been participating in the event for three years and each year he has earned the trophy for top fundraiser in the kid’s division.
“It’s a really good cause,” he said. “I became interested because lots of my friends from racing do it. I usually race every weekend, so it’s nice to just ride this one with friends. Usually with traveling and racing, we are too busy to just hang out. It’s cool to hang out with my racing friends, see the scenery, and meet more friends from other states – it’s a lot of fun.”
The ride is a family event as Colin’s parents, David and Charlene, attend and his three older brothers, Trevor, Brendan and Shane, either ride in it or volunteer to work at the ride.
An incoming seventh-grader at Oak Middle school, Colin said he plans to do this ride every year.
“It makes me feel good that I can raise money to help this cause so we can help more people who have Cystic Fibrosis [CF],” he said. “Last year we were told that there was a drug that was working for one form of CF, and this year we were told that drug is in production.”
Colin said there were about 500 to 600 riders at the event, about 60 of them in the kids ride. He has received lots of support from his school community at Sherwood Middle School while he was fundraising for this year’s ride, which took place June 9.
“I provided containers for classrooms and was allowed to make announcements asking the school community to help me with donations,” he said. “Donations were collected for two weeks and the team with the highest donation got their choice of a pizza party or ice cream social. My own team, 6 White, won. I also held a “Give Back Night” at Chili’s – the restaurant donated a percentage of customer’s total check to the ride.”
This year, Colin raised about $2,400 for the cause.
“I actually collected more than the adult top fundraiser,” he said. “In three years, I’ve raised more than $5,000. Each year the top fundraiser gets their picture taken with someone with Cystic Fibrosis. This year, the picture was with a 3-year-old named Rosie, who made me a gift. It was really cool – I’ve gotten trophies which are great, but this is hand-made by someone who is directly affected by the ride – they know that every dollar is going to help them.”
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