The loud thunder that was heard at 376 Arthur St. last Saturday morning didn’t come from the dark clouds looming overhead. It came from the convoy of motorcycles gathered at the Elmira home in honour of the late Randy Wilkin.
Some 40 riders and their passengers departed from the Arthur Street location July 25 on a 220- kilometre ride to honour Wilkin. They were also raising money to support access to minor hockey for children in the Elmira area through a memorial fund set up in his name.
Wilkin, a driver with Cherrey Bus Lines of Drayton, was killed near Fort McMurray, Alberta last July when the bus he was in collided with a truck. He had been in the province to transport workers between their camps and their job site in the oil sands.
Described by many as “a big teddy bear” who was always up for a laugh, Wilkin was also active in the community. Through his work with the Elmira Sugar Kings, Wilkin served as a team director, treasurer, and helped out with equipment, drove the team bus on occasion, and assisted at fundraisers. He was also involved with organizing the Ride with the Kings fundraising event.
“He’d do anything for anybody. That’s just the kind of guy he was – anybody was in trouble or needed something or whatever, he was always there to help,” said Ron Arndt, a long time friend of Wilkin who, along with friend Neil Freeman, organized the Randy Wilkin Memorial Ride.
“It didn’t matter where you were,” he said, recalling a bike trip with Wilkin in which the two men encountered a young man who was injured while riding a four-wheeler. Wilkin, who was trained in first-aid, was quick to help out.
“He’d seen this happen and, bang, he was over there. He didn’t know the guy from anybody – that’s the kind of guy he was.”
To honour Wilkin, a hockey fan and community-minded person, it was important for those organizing the ride to include his passions in last weekend’s fundraising event.
“What we’re raising now is going to people who can’t afford to put their kids in [hockey] and the kid wants to play. That’s what it’s going to go for. And it’s staying in the community. That was one of the main things,” said Arndt.
“It’s not to be shipped out somewhere, it’s staying right here.”
The cost of entering the ride, which was attended both by family and friends, was $10 per rider and $5 per passenger. More than $1,700 was collected through registration fees, T-shirt sales and donations.
“Everything that we had for food, it was all donated – everybody donated,” said Arndt.
The 220-km trek took the cyclists from Elmira to Heidelberg, Millbank, Drayton, near Minto, Grand Valley, Fergus, and back to Elmira.