By Terry Bell
Published July 24, 2012 on blogs.theprovince.com
Ryder Hesjedal doesn’t just win bike races and wave the flag … he donates funds to help Canadian athletes like Olympic teammate Denise Ramsden.
Ryder Hesjedal’s Giro d’Italia victory in May has turned into a blessing for Olympic cyclist Denise Ramsden of Yellowknife, NWT. Victoria’s Hesjedal, who’ll ride for Canada in the men’s road race and time trial, recently put his pink jersey from stage 7 of the Giro up for auction and it earned $10,300. He has donated half that money to CAN Fund and half to his own Ryder’s Cycling Society of Canada. CAN Fund then gave the $5,000 to Ramsden.
“Ryder’s paying it forward and it’s really cool,” said Conrad Leinemann the chief operating officer for CAN Fund. CAN Fund raises money and then gives out $6,000 cheques to cash-strapped Olympians. Leinemann said there are about 100 Canadian Olympians who are still on the waiting list for funding. Ramsden, 21 and a first time Olympian, gets a cheque for $6,000 — $5,000 of it from Hesjedal and another $1,000 from CAN Fund.
“It was really cool,” Ramsden said in a release sent out by CAN Fund on Tuesday. “I saw that he was auctioning off his pink jersey and proceeds were going to CAN Fund, even before I knew it was even involving me, and I thought it was great that he was doing that and giving back to Canadian athletes. Then when I found out I was the recipient I was very excited and happy. What he’s doing is fantastic. I’m very grateful that other people will get a chance to benefit from RCSC going forward as well.”
Hesjedal, who got money from CAN Fund prior to competing at the 2004 Olympics in Athens as a mountain biker, is happy to help an athlete like Ramsden, who’ll ride on the road with Montreal’s Joelle Numainville and Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que.
“I am very pleased to be able to give back to the cycling community and in particular support an up and coming female rider such as Denise,” Hesjedal said in the release. “I want cycling to continue to grow in Canada and I can’t think of any better way than to support our young riders achieve their dreams, just as I was able to achieve mine.”
Leinemann said there are about 100 Canadian Olympians still on the waiting list. CAN Fund and Ryders Cycling Society are still taking donations. With the Games set to officially open on Friday, Hesjedal wants other people to rally and offer their support to Canada’s Olympians .
“Let’s work together and support the remaining athletes on the CAN Fund waiting list,” he said.
Donations can be made online at www.myCANFund.ca or call 1-866-937-2012. Donors will receive a tax receipt and be able to find out who they helped. Anyone wanting to donate to Ryders Cycling Society of Canada, can visit http://ryderscyclingsociety.org.