You may recall the #RideJamesRide adventure of last August, when 10-year-old James and his dad Chris Potvin decided to ride their bikes from their home in Whitby all the way to Ottawa, raising $10,000 on their journey.
This year, James and Chris are doubling up on their distance and their fundraising goal, too. James will ride from the Whitby Pier all the way to the roller-coasters and hot dogs at Coney Island, New York. This bike ride will take James and Chris on a 1,000-kilometre journey.
Here at Grandview, we’re incredibly excited for James to embark on this adventure. To celebrate James, we’re hosting a pre-launch event at Grandview on August 17 from 6 to 8 pm, the evening before he departs. There will be Coney Island-style hotdogs to eat and cold beverages to drink. Grandview’s accessible playground will be open for children, as well.
Why ride to New York?
You might be wondering, though, why Chris and James have decided to embark on this lengthy adventure.
James has autism and is one of more than 3,000 children and youth on a growing waitlist for Grandview’s services. According to Chris, James’ dad, this ride means a few things to the Potvin family.
“Selfishly, we really just want to be sure James goes back to school as a strong young man with confidence and a story. The word I used last year was swagger,” says Chris. “For the community, we know how hard Grandview and EJ Autism are trying to improve the lives of young people who struggle. We want to see them succeed so these youth can also grow. Our hope is that when people see the potential of a young man on the autism spectrum, they will be moved to contribute to these organizations that help our youth to develop and grow. Building a treatment centre will allow so many more youth to meet their potential.”
The Potvin’s ultimate goal is to have their community present a gift of $20,000 to be donated between Grandview Kids and EJ Autism in New York.
“We are so grateful to the Potvin Family for choosing to support EJ Autism Foundation as they ride form Canada to Coney Island on behalf of Autism,” says Bea Huste-Petersen. “The money James raises will go towards the purchase of a safe, Autism friendly Summer Vacation Home on Fire Island, NY for Long Island Families living with this developmental disability. James’ courage and ambition to fearlessly travel 1000 miles on a bicycle as an Autism Ambassador, will allow people to see what a kid with Autism can do to make a difference.”
How will this ride be different from the last?
The bike ride is expected to take two weeks, covering 100km each day. According to Chris, this cross-border bike ride took a bit of extra planning.
“This year we are facing a lot of challenges that we didn’t face last year. Small details, like crossing the border right up to big logistical items like towns holding events to welcome us. In the ride itself, we will be crossing some big hills as we approach eastern New York State, and some very busy roads along the way,” says Chris Potvin. “It’s hard to pick out any single biggest challenge. Instead we tackle each item in a bite-sized piece as it comes to us, and trust that the goodness of people and our own abilities will see us through.”
From Chris’ perspective as a dad, he says it’s been great to watch James’ growth through this experience.
“Last summer he grew a great deal, but this year we’ve stretched him further and he has learned what it means to be part of group rides where people surround him, what it means to have a lot of attention, and what it is like to fall and get back up,” says Chris. “James still gets camera-shy, and has a hard time if he’s put on the spot to stand in front of a group, but he’s getting more comfortable all the time.”
Chris says he and James are excited to meet families along the way. It’s going to be a fun-filled day when they get to Coney Island.
We wish the Potvin team success and luck on their journey.To follow the pair on this ride, search the hashtag #RideJamesRide.