When the Rick Hansen Relay rolls into Radium, Invermere and Windermere on April 13 and 14, each community will be well represented by a number of community medal bearers.
In Radium where the relay first arrives at around 1:15 p.m. after coming from Edgewater that morning, Verge for Youth president Floyd Verge will be one of the medal bearers to have the honour of relaying the medal.
“It’s a heck of an honour,” Verge said. “I was absolutely shocked when they asked me.”
The Verge for Youth Society has been operating in the valley for roughly the past 20 years, and in that time has donated over $350,000 to families and youth in need in the Columbia Valley. Verge started the charity with friends and family informally in 1993, and holds a number of charity events each year, the most known of which would be their annual golf tournament. The charity also gives out a bursary at the high school each year.
Verge has a particular connection to the Relay due to losing part of his leg as a teenager. Now fitted with a prosthesis, he says that he hardly even thinks about it these days.
“I had some trials and tribulations through the times, but you don’t really think of it,” Verge said. “I have other amputee friends that live here and you just do what you can… you might not be able to do exactly what you did before, but you do the best you can.”
As for the Relay, Verge says it’s important to have events like these, because it helps bring the community together.
“Being stuck in a chair or being disabled in any way is a challenge in our world, and any time you can do or see
something in order to enhance a person’s vision it’s a good thing,” he said. “If we all work together, it’s a piece of cake, but when everyone tries to do it on their own, the challenges are humungous.”
Someone who will be joining Verge on his path will be Radium youth Kingston Peters. While Peters is not an official medal-bearer, Verge says that he’ll try his best to have Peters carry the medal for as long as possible on the route.
“He is one of the disabled people in the community, so it’s just good to get these people involved, because that’s what it’s all about, is helping people with special needs like himself,” Peters father Robin Peters explained. “I guess what I hope people take away from it is the awareness that there are people in the community, no matter how small or large the community is, there is always someone that has disabilities or is a special needs person. I hope people just recognize that they are here, and try to help them when they can, because these people do need help every once in a while.”
Meanwhile, in Windermere, local Cheri Hann has also been selected to be a medal bearer when the relay arrives early April 14. As an active member of the community, Hann helps organize a number of community events, from being the chair of the fall fair to helping with dances and other events. Hann was also involved with the Olympic Torch relay event in 2010.
“I was very surprised to be nominated and to be selected,” Hann said. “There’s a lot of wonderful people in the community that also deserve it.”
Hann says like the Olympic torch, the Rick Hansen Relay is an important way of teaching the kids about Canadian spirit, and about how to bring a community together. She also wanted to thank her husband and three children for all the support she gets on a daily basis.
“I think it’s really important to teach our children and keep the (Rick Hansen Relay) legacy going,” Hann said. “To be a part of that and appreciate what one person can do… it’s a huge inspiration for everybody and hopefully the kids will recognize that.”
For more information on the relay, including event times for your area, please visit www.rickhansenrelay.com.
*Please note that in our April 11 print edition of this story, we incorrectly state the dates of the relay as April 14 and 15. The correct dates are April 13 and 14.