A Catholic men’s group in southern Saskatchewan plans to cycle more than 100 kilometres on Highway 1 as part of a fundraiser to support orphan children in Ukraine.
The Knights of Columbus Bishop Budka Council No. 5914 from St. Basil’s Ukrainian Catholic Church and volunteers and sponsors are hosting the 100 Mile Bicycle Trek Fundraiser on Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22, with participants cycling 50 miles each day.
The event kicks off at 8 a.m. in Regina from Tim Horton’s in Harbour Landing and heads west on the Trans-Canada Highway to Moose Jaw. The group leaves The Friendly City the next day at 8 a.m. from the downtown Tim Horton’s location and heads back to The Queen City.
Those expected to participate include Knights of Columbus members, volunteers, bicycle club riders, youths, wheelchair athletes, law enforcement personnel and anyone else who wants to support the cause.
The organization has supported orphaned children in Ukraine for the past 10 years and provided resources to meet their needs, including helping them stay out of the sex trade and supporting their mental well-being, explained Terry Shalley, events co-ordinator and project leader.
Life was tough in Ukraine for families before the war started, he continued. Many parents divorced because of finances or domestic disputes, so some abandoned their kids because they could not afford to look after them. This forced youths onto the streets, and in some cases, they fell into the hands of traffickers.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, the Knights of Columbus saw a need to enhance its support — with food, clothes, medicine, baby supplies, and more. The number of orphans has increased because their parents have died during the fighting.
“I came up with the idea. I just thought it’s such a worthy cause… ,” Shalley said. “We had a priest last year who was part of our organization who did a bike ride for wheelchairs in Ukraine prior to the war. And he rode all across Saskatchewan last summer, so we built upon the legacy of what he did.”
While the fundraiser also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Knights of Columbus in Saskatchewan, supporting orphans is the focus of this activity. All money raised will go toward addressing their needs.
Shalley noted that the organization has people in Ukraine who provide regular updates — sometimes daily — by pictures and text messages about their work.
That group is the Sisters of St. Joseph, a registered charity based in Saskatoon. A handful of sisters were there before the war and decided to stay when the fighting began. They have been moving throughout the country, finding orphans and families and taking them to safety. Some sisters have even crossed enemy lines to find and retrieve youths.
While there are thousands of orphaned children in Ukraine, the sisters have worked with about 500.
“They’re angels. They’re like guardian angels out there,” said Shalley. “And we see evidence of it. Again, my friend gets the texts and we see pictures and you go, ‘My goodness!’
“They’re God-given angels, I tell ya.”
Many people throughout the Ukrainian Catholic community in Saskatchewan have relatives in Ukraine — including Shalley — and have attempted to stay in touch with them. He added that some people have brought relatives to Saskatchewan with their own money, while others are looking to the federal government for help.
All donations raised during the fundraiser will go to the Sisters of St. Joseph, which will purchase supplies and distribute them to kids in Ukraine.
All donation payments can be made per mile or lump sump to St. Basil’s Ukrainian Catholic Church at 1747 Toronto Street, Regina, S4P 1M5 or by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.