Holiday time is always busy as we sleigh ride into the season. Hustle, bustle, presents under the tree and children filled with excitement – not so for some!
We think of our family, friends, neighbours, and those who find the season a difficult time of the year. The difficulties of putting food on the table in harder economic times and the financial burdens that can arise when unplanned things happen. ALS can be like that. We try to make things better through comfort measures and providing a dignified lifestyle – but it is not easy.
We remember with fondness, those who passed away and left us far too soon. Strength and hope are imperative. More and more we need to Lite Up a Life.
This takes us back to an event which occurred this past summer. This is your queue to remember those long sunny days and warm weather as the first (or second, or third) flakes of snow begin to fall.
Gary and Marsha Forgue displayed this love for their fellow man in orchestrating the Dream Ride fundraiser – to lite up a life and fulfill a dream. It was a beautiful day with the goal of raising funds for a sick child.
For Grant Babcock (and family), a long-time supporter and participant of Gary and Marsha’s Dream Ride event, this year’s event had a special personal connection. A special partnership was made to support the Brummitt Feasby ALS House in memory of Grant’s father.
Neepawa native, Gary Forgue, has had a long line of charities that he has supported over the years. The most recent charity is Dream Ride. With a focus on Manitoba’s sick children, this charity aims to raise money to purchase a child’s dream. Gary and his wife Marsha started conducting a Dream Ride event in Manitoba three years ago and every year it has been growing larger.
When Gary started Dream Ride in Manitoba, it may have seemed daunting. “I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid!”, Gary shared. However, trying something new can be refreshing – and it has come a long way. “It’s blown up more than I ever thought it would. Going from the first year at $21,000 to last year at $42,000…[this year] we are sitting at more than we were at last year at this point.” Gary said.
The money raised in the first year was to help a young boy in Neepawa. The second year of fundraising was to help two sisters in Brandon. This year the object of their generosity is Rainey, an active young gentleman, and Maiya Bates of Carberry.
Gary and Marsha are trying to expand the awareness of Dream Ride by partnering with other charities in additional communities. “We were trying to give it more exposure within the different West Man[itoba] communities because they weren’t sure what it [Dream Ride] was, it was primarily a Neepawa thing”, Gary explained. This is where Grant Babcock and his personal connection with the ALS Society of Manitoba’s Brummitt Feasby ALS House came into play. It presented itself as an opportunity as a joint mini-event in support of the larger Dream Ride cycling event. Grant, also born and raised in Neepawa, was among the first to jump on board and participate to support Gary.
More sponsors continued to jump on board to help out with Dream Ride. “We had some big names jump into Dream Ride this year that will kind of make it bigger,” says Gary, with even larger sponsors willing to jump in and help out if they can attract some more famous people to get involved.
So what is the Dream Ride event? Its end goal is to make dreams come true. “So basically sick kids who have a dream, … we want to buy their dream” and make it come true for them, Gary explained. A lot of time is spent on a bicycle and many kilometres are covered.
The main event, held in July of each year, is a 52 km bike ride through Clear Lake. About 10 riders take part in this leg of the ride. In addition to the 52km bike ride, there is a further 15km bike ride which may be done. About 20 riders take part in this ride. It’s not a race, essentially “just pedal away and have fun!” Gary shares.
Last year some walkers also wanted to get involved. So this year they added a 15km walk to the events. These three events combine to create the Dream Ride fundraiser.
“I wanted to … help some other charities raise … money, but also to give exposure to Dream Ride”, Gary shared. He also wanted to thank Grant for all of his support; for always coming along with him on his rides.
The Brummitt Feasby ALS House was chosen as the additional charity. The idea was a barbecue and raffle to stir excitement leading up to the main Dream Ride event.
Grant’s father had passed away from ALS. Gary knew how important it was to Grant to raise awareness and funds to support the Brummitt Feasby ALS House in Winnipeg. This specialized home was specifically designed to meet the needs of people living with ALS. It is owned and operated by the not-for-profit ALS Society of Manitoba and is the only home of its kind in North America.
The barbecue and raffle were held in the town of Carberry, home to Maiya Bates, one of the children whom Dream Ride was supporting this year.
“We probably had over 140 [people] turn up…pork on a bun, a drink and a bag of chips was ten dollars”, said Gary.
The raffle money and half of the lunch proceeds were donated to the ALS Society of Manitoba. Most of the food was generously donated by Meyers Meats Ltd. and the grand prize of the raffle was a Pit Boss smoker kindly donated by Plett Construction.
Over the course of three hours, almost $1700 was raised to support the Brummitt Feasby ALS house. With some large repairs to be made on the house from this year’s heavy rains, it could not have come at a better time!
Grant was thoroughly pleased with the results of the barbecue and raffle held leading up to the main Dream Ride event. When asked about his father, who had passed away from ALS, Grant’s family came together to put down on paper their memories of a man well-loved and dearly missed.
“Our dad, Dean Babcock, was diagnosed with ALS in 2008 and was able to live independently with help of the home care system until the spring of 2011. With his physical health quickly declining, it was realized that immediate 24-hour care was needed.
Brummitt Feasby House in Winnipeg was brought to our attention. Though it was a 2-hour plus drive away, it would perfectly suit our dad’s needs and he was accepted right away.
It was tough. Taking your frail, terminally ill parent to a facility that would be his final residence. He knew it. We knew it. We pull up to this house in a beautiful residential area. Mature trees, river out back. We were met by several smiling faces, given a quick tour and shown to an oversized room with all the things that made dad smile. A large screen TV with a remote, a big window with a river view, and a comfy lift chair. While sitting in this chair, he slowly looked around and (as only our dad can do), said “OK. You can go now”. It felt like home.
Dad was a humble and modest man and didn’t expect much from himself. He would take us 3 kids up in his small 2-seater airplane in hopes of “touching the clouds”. There was always haying or harvest that should have been done, but hearing our squeals of excitement and laughter was worth it. As a family, we would go on frequent road and camping trips across Canada and the US. He was always thinking of that new great invention that would change the world.
He and our mom loved to dance and they would turn heads doing so. They were great together. Always involved in local events, volunteering, and not leaving till all the work was done.
Fortunately for our dad, ALS did not rob him of his ability to speak. He loved to deliver one-liners and jokes that would famously make you either laugh or groan. The day before his death, he awoke in the morning, looked around at all our faces and jokingly stated that we did not look like angels. We all laughed and cried. Way to go Dad. We are so proud of you.
We will be forever grateful to Brummitt Feasby House, the ALS Society of Manitoba and all those who worked with dad. We are grateful for your care, your compassion and your professionalism. Though wheelchairs and other medical equipment were visible, the place looked very much like a house. A home. And we thank you.
The ALS Society of Manitoba (ALSMB) has another connection to Carberry. Cheryl Orr-Hood, a former client with ALS grew up on a small farm two miles south of Carberry. She was a baker and entrepreneur. Cheryl developed ALS in 2016 and sadly passed away in 2019.
To help raise funds for ALSMB, Cheryl put together a cookbook titled Taste Bud Pleasers. It contains recipes she had developed over the years with the net proceeds being donated to the ALSMB. Copies are still available. Reach out to us to purchase one of these special cookbooks as a treat for the holiday season.
The ALS Society of Manitoba is now into its winter campaign – Lite Up a Life. Much like Dream Ride strives to bring hope to sick children and raise money for their dreams, Lite Up a Life also works towards bringing hope. Hope to those living with ALS/MND and raise funds to support the Brummitt Feasby ALS House. It also remembers those that have passed with ALS by lighting bulbs on the trees in front of the Brummitt Feasby ALS House. Perhaps you can show your strength and compassion this season by purchasing bulbs to light up those trees.
Whatever you choose, as you sit by the fire over the holidays or join together in Christmas carols, remember those who need our strength. Strength can be found when people work together. As a small office of four people, there is only so much work that can be done. However, when people are willing and able to step up and take on a challenge, much more can be accomplished. Your strength is so very much appreciated.
Gary and Marsha’s barbecue and raffle in memory of Grant’s father successfully raised much-needed funds for the Brummitt Feasby ALS House. Cheryl’s cookbook has helped to raise funds over the years. Various businesses put on golf tournaments over the summer and fall, contributing all or a portion of the proceeds to the ALS Society of Manitoba. To all of these people – we cannot say thank you enough. The work we do here and the operation of the Brummitt Feasby ALS House would not be able to continue without hearts like yours. Thank you and Merry Christmas.
Do you have an event that you think would be fun and engaging? Perhaps something out of the ordinary, but exciting? Do you know someone living with ALS that you would like to support? Please visit our Hosting a Third-Party Event page to learn more about running your event this winter or preparing in anticipation of summer.