728 x 90

Journey for Sight


The cold weather last week had many people in Manitoba bundling up and staying inside as much as possible, but a diligent group of Lions Club members still jumped on their snowmobiles for the Journey for Sight, which saw approximately 20 sleds and riders travel from Flin Flon to Brandon between Jan. 15 and 18.
“We would just bundle up as best as we could and dealt with it,” David Mullin, member of the Bowsman and District Lions Club and co-organizer of the Journey for Sight, a fundraising initiative that he has been going on with his brother, Ian, for about 27 years.
The Journey for Sight is a fundraising initiative that sees Lions members across the province raise money for the Lions Foundation of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, specifically for the Visions Programs. These programs help ease the burden many children and adults face with vision impairment.
The funds are utilized by providing financial support for out of province/city/town surgeries, adaptive equipment, necessary equipment for health services, eyewear and the collecting of used eyeglasses for developing countries. In 2018, the Lions Foundation added free vision screening for children aged six months to six years through the Lions Kidsight Program.
The drive for the cause is one that riders take seriously. Mullin noted that there is usually a core of 20 riders that will join them on the trip year after year.
“They’re all great guys and you only see them a couple of times a year,” he said. “We spend countless hours collecting pledges and organizing everything.”
Mullin noted that it takes a certain level of dedication, and maybe a little crazy, to venture out onto a snowmobile in -38C weather to ride hundreds of miles.
“On a typical day, you’re not going on a snowmachine anywhere (in that weather),” he said.
That dedication literally paid off, with approximately $34,000 worth of pledges being counted by the end of the week, with many more yet to come in.
“Those numbers were really comparable to last year,” said Mullin, noting that the final numbers won’t be in for a while, but he expects the numbers to double once the ticket sales for the snowmobile raffle are factored in, and as more pledge sheets are handed in.
Of that total, approximately $6,700 of that came from the Swan Valley, not factoring money raised from 75 books of 50 tickets. And, of that group that travelled together, seven of them were Valley residents.
“There has been lots of support here in the Valley,” said Mullin, noting the local Lions Club took care of meals and refreshments when the caravan of sleds rolled into Swan River for a rest on Thursday evening. Many other businesses also took care of housing the snowmobiles for the evening and contributed oil and fuel and some of the other expenses that go along with a multi-day cross-country trek.
“We cover our own fees on this journey,” said Mullin. “We have a riders’ fund that looks after our hotels and meals that aren’t sponsored, and everyone who goes on this kicks in $500 each to cover expenses.”
Mullin was appreciative of the sponsors that keep the costs of the trip down so more people can join.
Having expenses covered means that 100 percent of the funds that are raised on the journey are going towards the cause.
In a long-standing partnership with Lions Foundation of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, Journey for Sight plays a crucial role in improving the quality of life for those in our community with vision impairment.

Jeremy Bergen