Calgary resident Pauline Staples is celebrating her younger sister Patricia Dawn’s life by hosting a memorial motorcycle ride that kicks off in Airdrie on Aug. 7, with proceeds from the ride being donated to the Calgary Distress Centre.
According to Staples, the distress centre focuses on suicide prevention, crisis intervention, and mental health, and has been operating for over 50 years.
Dawn died by suicide on Feb. 23 at the age of 41, after struggling with childhood trauma and the traumatic experience of working as a nurse at a safe injection clinic in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for nine years, Staples said.
The oldest of seven siblings, Staples started riding a motorcycle about five years ago, after being inspired by her brother to get into the activity.
She decided hosting a motorcycle ride would be a multi-faceted way to raise awareness for mental health issues and funds for the Calgary-based distress centre, while also honouring her sister's memory.
“We were not in the world that she lived in, but we can make a difference in the world that we are in,” Staples said.
The memorial motorcycle brigade will meet at 11 a.m. at the Gas Plus located at 800 Veterans Boulevard in Airdrie. Picking the kick-stands up at noon, the motorcyclists will head west on Highway 567 and then take Highway 22 south to Cochrane.
Once the group of riders is back in Calgary, Glenmore Trail will then lead the riders south toward Fish Creek Provincial Park, where a picnic will be set up for participants to eat, drink, mingle, and celebrate Dawn’s life.
The 110-kilometre route should take approximately an hour and a half to complete, according to Staples
To raise funds for the Calgary Distress Centre, memorial patches are available for purchase by donation and Staples is suggesting a minimum $15 donation per patch. Those interested in purchasing a patch can email her at email@example.com.
Staples said she has also received over $600 in donations from local businesses and Pauls Pizza in northeast Calgary is featuring the memorial ride as their Pizza with a Purpose on Aug. 29. As part of the initiative, $2 from every pizza purchased will go to the distress centre.
Those wanting to make a donation can do so by visiting the Calgary Distress Centre website at bit.ly/3QdOLS1.
The goal of the ride is to become an annual event, according to Staples, and she’d like to make Forever 41 a federally accredited non-profit charity in the future, in honour of her sister, who passed away at that age.
Staples is hoping to see at least 100 riders cruising down the highways during the Aug. 7 memorial ride, and she invited everyone to join, even if they can’t be on two wheels.
“Not everybody will be on a bike … it’s more about, come out and have a little bit of a good time,” Staples said.
For additional information, visit the Forever 41 Facebook page at bit.ly/3Sym2cT.