Kristy Buckton describes daughter Kyleigh's experience in the health care system. Kyleigh was born last year with holes in her heart, requiring surgery. (photo by Jordan MacKinnon)

Saugeen Shores Bike Ride To Raise Money For Hospitals

The Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation is hoping to bring more than a thousand cyclists to Saugeen Shores next year.

The Foundaiton has kicked off the Lake Huron Gran Fondo, a bicycle ride scheduled for August 19th of next year, with four courses ranging from 30km to 160km.

Executive Director Sally Kidson says they’re hoping for 1,500 riders and have a fundraising goal of $130,000 for the hospitals in Southampton and Owen Sound.

She says the shortest course will take riders on a loop of Saugeen Shores, while the 160km course will see riders start in Southampton before heading north to Sauble Beach and as far south as Tiverton, before returning to Saugeen Shores.

“People will be riding along the shore of Lake Huron, they will be riding through the hills and dales of the Saugeen River valleys, they’ll be riding up through Saugeen First Nation,” says Kidson. ‘They’ll be riding down some of the hills and through the farmland and through the nature conservancy of MacGregor Point Provincial Park.”

Kidson says they are launching the event one year in advance in order to allow word to filter out to the various cycling clubs across the country, adding they hope to draw in participants from across Ontario and Quebec, as well as bordering U.S. states.

The Foundation also unveiled celebrity cyclists for each distance, including Port Elgin’s Bill Buckton, who will be headlining the 160km route.

Buckton, a former professional hockey player, has run the tyke hockey program in Saugeen Shores for more than three decades and says he recently gained new appreciation for the importance of local health

Buckton’s granddaughter Kyleigh was born last year with holes in her heart, requiring an extended hospital stay and surgery, but reports she is now perfectly healthy.

“They spent a lot of time in the hospital, the hospital staff was awesome, Ronald McDonald House was awesome, my son and [his wife] Kristy spent two months living there,” says Buckton. “Eventually, [Kyleigh] had the surgery, got the holes fixed up and she’s good as new.”