Okanagan Grape Escape – what a way to see the Okanagan!

When I got involved with the MS Society Chapter locally in the Okanagan, there was one event that amazed me – and it’s an event I’ll never be able to take part in!

For two days each September, the fundraisers get to cycle to wineries all over the Central Okanagan. They visit around 8 or 9 on the Kelowna side of the lake on the Saturday and roughly the same on the West Kelowna side of the lake on the Sunday. The number of wineries changes each year with the route, but it covers the little guys like House of Rose and the bigger names like Summerhill. At each winery there is an exclusive tasting and if the riders choose to buy anything, they don’t have to cycle along with the bottles clinking; all the bottles get transported for them.

What a great way to experience the beauty of the Okanagan, to see the grapes growing on the vine and then taste the wine that is made! What a great way to support local businesses and local tourism! Over the years we have had people travel from all over North America just to take part in our bike ride – not only are we raising awareness of MS and the MS Society, but we’re also raising the profile of the Okanagan!

All the meals are included, with a banquet on the Saturday night too, and along the route there’s support all the way. We have Fresh Air Experience giving the biking technical support and the HOGS – the Harley Owners Group – riding as route marshalls.

I think it’s an incredible way to fundraise. Not only do people with MS benefit from the money raised, but those who are raising the funds get a world class experience.

I know you’re interested – you can find all the information HERE! This year the event is on September 19th and 20th, and by following the link you can find all the details on how to register.

We get wonderful support from sponsors. Just like our Walk, the National Sponsors for our Bike Ride are ScotiaBank, and I think they have a team in our ride this year. Every year we have had the bike ride in the Okanagan we have had amazing support from RONA. Our local store is the start and end point and they provide so much more than that. They have an amazing, dedicated team of riders who raise lots of money, and Matt and his team from the store support us throughout the year as well as the weekend.

A couple of weeks ago I was honoured to speak at a Gear It Up event. That’s a warm up event where riders go for a practice ride together and hear tips on how to get in shape and maintain their bikes for the weekend. I provided the link to MS and the MS Society. Here’s the other thing that amazes me. Most of the riders at this Gear It Up event did not have a connection to MS! They were riding for the experience and the great weekend – but now we have brought them into the MS family. 

I know that there are many people with MS throughout Canada who are able to ride, and I look up to every one of them. There are also friends and family members that ride, and that shows their continuing commitment to the people in their lives with MS. Those who ride for the fun of the event, but then learn about MS – you’re pretty special people too!

Gear It Up riders on June 20th, 2015  

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