School begins, fall is in the air and elementary schools in the Vanderhoof and surrounding area are gearing up for the annual Ultimate Frisbee tournament at W.L.McLeod Elementary school. All money raised is forwarded to Icord, a research and development institution dedicated to finding an answer to cure spinal cord injuries.
Our school is named for Bill McLeod.
His daughter is married to John Ryan. John was injured in a vehicle accident and, because he was not wearing his seat belt, he sustained a spinal cord injury that left him a paraplegic.
He decided to cycle across Canada in 1999, hoping to raise money and awareness for spinal cord injuries. His tour, called the Regeneration Tour, ended October 1999 and John came here to celebrate the successes of his trip.
It was in October of ’99 that three staff members of WL McLeod Elementary School organized a “John Ryan Ultimate” tournament.
The choice to play ultimate was an easy decision. John Ryan is able to, and does, play the game in an indoor venue.
John was excited to hear of our idea to help him in his efforts to find a cure for spinal cord injuries; first by hosting an event that would raise money for the cause and secondly by choosing a sport he participates in. John and Penny, and now their daughter Janelle, have attended some of our tournament days, although living in Whistler is a long trip for them to make each year. Probably one of the most memorable tournaments was the year that John and Penny surprised everyone here with the inclusion of their friend, Trevor Linden. It was a real treat for all of us.
This tournament has created some very exciting moments for everyone involved.
Over the years we have seen approximately 2,500 students participating and we have raised more than $10,000. All the money raised has gone to Icord. A key to our successful fundraising during the tournament has to be credited to our local Co-op. Each year, without fail, they have supplied our concession needs. This donation of food has allowed for a 100% donation of money raised.
As we are a small community, we rely on our neighbours to support the kids and adults working to see the day come together in a positive and inclusive spirit. Our local radio station, The Wolf, has interviewed the organizers and students, a new and terrifying experience for some but all for the right reasons. We worked together in our 10th year to broadcast a radio telethon. We were able to add to the total contributed that year by the participation of the community and the co-operation of The Wolf.
The local newspaper, Omineca Express, has covered our events with write-ups and pictures from the various fields of play. It is great to have the pictures out there for all to see the kids playing hard for a charitable cause. Everyone wins!
We are the only charity still operating and raising money for John Ryan’s dream of a cure for spinal cord injuries.
We are proud of our efforts and even prouder of the community that supports this event. In the end, we will all have contributed to finding a cure. The students involved will know they were a part of the solution.
Thank you to everyone that has been a part of efforts.