Charity and cycling go together like gears and pant legs. For the second year running, Elmira resident Joe Meissner is leading the Kate’s Kause Cycling Team for the Centurion Canada bike race at Blue Mountain, to raise money for Elmira’s accessible playground. Now he’s looking for new members to strap on their helmets and pedal for a cause.
“We did it with 20 riders last year, and we raised nearly $7,000,” said Meissner. “So it was a good turnout for last year, and this year we already have 20 people who are interested, so hopefully we get a few more into it.”
Kate’s Kause was founded two years ago by Kelly Meissner, Joe’s sister-in-law, after her daughter Kate was diagnosed with Angelman’s Syndrome. Kate’s Place for Everyone, the organization’s playground on Snyder Avenue, has fast become a preschool hotspot. Meissner and his teammates are looking to raise money for further construction and improvements to the playground, which is designed for children of all levels of ability.Last month, Kate’s Place made headlines when it received a grant through the Kiwanis Club from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for new additions. Meissner and company hope to add to the development.
“Playgrounds are where kids learn the best, because they learn to interact with other children,” said Meissner. “A lot of playgrounds are non-accessible – you can’t have kids with wheelchairs and other disabilities accessing the equipment as easily, and they don’t get that opportunity for socializing. A park like that gives you the opportunity to have all kids play together.”
He continued, “There are things like the roller slide, so kids who have hearing aids who can’t go down a regular slide because of the static buildup, they can go down the roller slides … The Trillium grant will help build the sensory wall, which will help kids that are blind be able to play with something.”
The Centurion Canada race, which draws around 2,500 riders, offers three possible distances: 40km, 80km, or a 160km challenger. “The 40 is like a ride around here, so it’s doable by anybody,” said Meissner. “The 80 kilometre you have to train pretty well for, because it goes up the mountain at least three times, so it’s a lot of … up.”
But no need to be worried – with a little training, Meissner says you’ll do fine.
“A lot of our members come to our weekly Sunday ride, and we increase difficulty. [Last year] they came out on Sundays and rode on their own time now and again, and they did fine at 80 kilometres.”
While the team has not yet been finalized, donation tabs will eventually be made available at kateskausecycling.weebly.com. Those interested in joining the team can contact Meissner at firstname.lastname@example.org, or show up for one of their Sunday morning rides, departing from Perks Coffee House on Industrial Drive at 8:30 a.m.