CYCLING FOR A CAUSE-- Jaimie Cote pictured on her 500 km ride in the Jumpstart Pedal For Kids that started in Red Deer Alberta.  Photo submitted

CYCLING FOR A CAUSE– Jaimie Cote pictured on her 500 km ride in the Jumpstart Pedal For Kids that started in Red Deer Alberta.Photo submitted

After some 500 kilometres of gruelling hills and unforgiving weather, Jaimie Cote and some 79 other riders accomplished the goal they had when they left Red Deer on September 8th. Not only had they biked 100 km per day for five long days, each had raised more than $5,000 in hopes of getting more families into sports throughout the country.

A Jumpstart initiative, Jumpstart Pedal For Kids, was started in 2011 as a way to help raise additional funds for Jumpstart each year. Canadian Tire originally launched Jumpstart in 2005 to address inactivity among kids across the country. Since then, the corporation boasts to aiding one million kids find financial assistance, allowing them to participate in organized sports through registration, equipment and transportation.

Ms. Cote, associate dealer at Canadian Tire in Invermere, said she originally heard of the opportunity from another Canadian Tire couple, but was unsure that she would be able to meet the $5,000 fundraising requirement or complete the challenging 500-km distance in such a short period of time. Believing firmly in Jumpstart, she said she and her husband Jeff decided it was an important task to take on for the community. Mr. and Ms. Cote took over Canadian Tire Invermere earlier this year.

Our kids are really involved in sports and I think its really important for kids to be involved in sports and unfortunately nowadays the price of playing sports is really expensive so to be able to do this and help families who arent able to participate was really big for him and I, Ms. Cote said.

Having never cycled more than the occasional mountain bike or ride with her kids, Ms. Cote purchased her first-ever road bike in April and began training for the biggest ride of her life. At first she started with 20-km distances, building on that each time out until she was riding 50-km at a time. She said, as someone who likes to workout every morning before starting her day, this made the training easier to manage.

On September 8th, though, she and the other riders from Canadian Tire partners Sport Chek and Marks Work Wearhouse started pedaling in Red Deer, Alberta, making their way through Olds, Cochrane and Canmore through pouring rain and freezing temperatures before finishing their journey in Calgary five days later.

Its one of your bucket list things where youre like, Oh, Id love to go do that one day and the fact that I was able to do it and accomplish it, when I crossed the finish line I was in tears, it was just so awesome to see, she said.

Ms. Cote said that one of her more memorable experiences will be the four-km bike up hill in Cochrane that many averted, using the shuttle instead, but that she attacked head on. Of course, she said, she cant forget the stories of the other riders who were there.

Everyone has a different reason why they do it, she said. One lady I rode with, her two sons grew up and they had to use Jumpstart so she does this ride now to give back to those people that cant do it. This one guy lost 120 pounds training for this ride and this was his weight loss motivation. Its just really interesting to hear all the different stories.

Ms. Cote said that, to date, they have raised nearly $8,000 for her Jumpstart contribution, which will be additional funds to the annual funds they raise at the Invermere store for Jumpstart charities. At an average of $200 per family, Ms. Cote estimates that this will help nearly 40 families across the Columbia Valley participate in sports they wouldnt otherwise have the privilege of.

Although having only just finished this years race, she said she is already looking forward to making this an annual tradition.

Right now, my bike and I are on a little bit of a break, she said. To raise $10,000 or $12,000 next year, that would be such a huge goal to accomplish again. Physically for sure I would have to start training again in April, but yeah I think its something in my future that I want to do every year.