Seven energetic cyclists raised $10,000 for the Magdalene House Society by taking part in a regionwide bike ride that kicked off in Sylvan Lake on Saturday.
Riders departed Sylvan Lake on Saturday morning and cycled approximately 90 kilometres to an area west of Caroline before returning to Sylvan Lake the next day.
The money raised, which was collected through online donations and pledges, will help fund operations at the Magdalene House, a facility in Central Alberta that provides safe living for youth exploited by human trafficking.
Annual operating costs at the house total around $250,000, and while the $10,000 raised is roughly the equivalent of operating costs at the house for just two weeks, the society needs and appreciates any funding it can get, said president David Bouchard.
“People have come out and supported us, and we just think it’s wonderful,” he said. “We are very glad that we have that kind of support, and we encourage people to keep on being generous to us so that we can still provide for recovery.”
While this year’s event took place on a smaller scale than last year’s — which saw $15,000 raised by 17 cyclists — Bouchard hopes the Freedom Ride will return bigger and better next year.
“If we get more riders, it will obviously have a bigger impact,” he said. “Last year we had 17 riders, and this year we had a lot fewer because there are a lot of other commitments going on out there, but hopefully we will recover next year with more.”
Meanwhile, donations to the house — whose exact location within Central Alberta can’t be disclosed — can be made online at magdalenehouse.ca.
But raising awareness and getting involved, Bouchard feels, is just as important as raising money.
“Talking to other people is just as supportive for us in terms of knowledge and saying that this is happening right here in our Central Alberta area.”