Cyclist raising money for Ronald McDonald Family Room at Victoria Hospital

Graham Tate is riding through the province this week as he raises funds for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital. (Submitted photo)

A cyclist is travelling over 1,400 km on an eight-day, self-supported cycling tour from Calgary to Emma Lake to raise money for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital.

Graham Tait left on his eight-day journey Sunday, and is expected to arrive in Emma Lake this coming Sunday,

The ride is intended to advocate and fundraise for child and adolescent mental health. The Alberta portion of the journey is aimed at raising over $15,000 to support the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation (ACHF) pediatric mental health programs and projects. The Saskatchewan leg of the trip is aiming to provide over $2,000 for the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Victoria Hospital, which provides critical support for seriously ill children and their families. The Saskatchewan fundraiser is called ‘Graham’s Two Wheels to Sunnyside,” as it will conclude at Sunnyside Beach at Emma Lake.

“The Alberta Children’s Hospital and the foundation have been a huge support to our family in our own journey with childhood mental illness,” Tait said in a media release.

“I want people to be aware of the multiple, debilitating and often life-threatening mental illnesses so many children and youth face. As with other serious pediatric illnesses, mental illnesses do not differentiate. The ACHF recently announced the development of a child and adolescent mental health centre in Calgary. This much-needed facility is an example of the amazing work the ACHF is doing.”

Across Canada, over 70 per cent of mental health problems appear during childhood and adolescence, the press release said.

The Saskatchewan fundraiser was inspired by a “ very brave, special” Prince Albert boy who passed away from acute myeloid leukemia.

Mason was 7 when he lost his battle with cancer. Mason spent time in Calgary hospital with Chelsea Mitchell, a local teen cancer survivor who served as the honorary chairperson for this year’s Relay for Life event. The Mitchell family dedicated their walk in Mason’s honour.

Tait cycled through Saskatoon in 2016 during the national kids cancer ride, where he met Mason for the first time. The two would reunite at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in 2017.

“The Ronald McDonald Family Room in Prince Albert, Ronald McDonald House an Saskatoon and Ronald McDonald House in Calgary were a huge help to Mason and his family,” Tait said.

Tait, who lives in Calgary, has cycled across Mexico, Southwest France and has completed many road cycling trips solo and with friends.