More than 500 motorcycles will gather in Oakville Sunday August 12th to celebrate a decade of raising funds for The Hospital for Sick Kids.

After nine years of riding East of Toronto, we’ve decided to switch things up!  This year, we’re riding West to mark a new direction for the 10th Annual Ride for Sick Kids, on Sunday August 12, 2018.

“We started with just a few riders and an idea to do something for SickKids Hospital,” says Nella Figliano, co-founder and chairperson. “And today to see what it’s grown to become is just amazing. It takes a lot of work by a lot of volunteers and sponsors to make this happen. This year we are coming west for a change of scenery after nine great years riding from Oshawa to Port Perry. We’re looking forward to seeing all the riders who have supported us through the years and meeting new riders from GTA West to join us.”

Most importantly, we’re out to help The Hospital for Sick Children save lives. Last year, our ninth year, we raised $64,139, bringing our grand total to nearly $350,000.

The 2018 Ride for SickKids will meet at the brand new Policaro Harley Davidson dealership, located at 191 Wyecroft Rd. in Oakville. From there, we will take a beautiful, scenic ride out to The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 197, located at 15 Wright Avenue in Acton, Ontario.

Join us at Policaro HD for a light breakfast and an introduction to the 2018 Ride Master of Ceremonies and Ride Leader, and to our 2018 SickKids Hospital Ambassador Family, the Tersigni’s.

It’s for twins like Olivia and Isabella Tersigni that we ride and raise funds for SickKids Hospital. There are hundreds of thousands of stories about the patients and families at this world renowned facility; and Olivia’s story is just one.

Less than a week after the twin girls were born, seven years ago, a precautionary follow up check on a heart murmur in both babies turned into every newborn parents’ nightmare.

“Our cardiologist took one look and rushed us all into emergency,” says mom Danielle Tersigni. “That evening was our first of many nights spent at Sick Kids. Our family and a few friends came down to wait with us. The next day came with awful news:  Isabella had a congenital heart defect called Right Atrial Isomerism, which meant that her heart hadn’t formed properly. She would need two if not three open heart surgeries to live.”

Life’s lessons came fast and cruelly: “We learned how fast things can go from bad to worse with a heart baby. A few weeks later that is exactly what happened.”

Another routine clinic check up with Isabella triggered an emergency admission and as things deteriorated she was rushed to the CCU.

“We will never forget that day,” says Danielle. “She was rushed on to ECMO, which is basically a life support and had to remain on ECMO until she could be brought into emergency surgery for a shunt the next morning. At this point we had no idea if our three week old baby was going to make it. Those long hours of waiting for her to come out of surgery were the longest of our lives.”

Two weeks later Isabella went home and with support from Sick Kids and a room full of home medical equipment she started recovering and growing.

“Five months later we were back for her second open heart surgery,” says Danielle. “This time her recovery was much quicker and she, as promised by her nurses, was a “brand new baby”. She came off the feeding tube within weeks and began slowly catching up to her twin sister Olivia.”

Her third and final surgery was in March of 2014, a few days after her third birthday.

“By this third surgery you would think it would be easy,” sighs Daniella. “A piece of cake but it was actually the hardest one. Isabella was older now, so she was more aware of what was going on. She and Olivia had developed a special bond and were inseparable. Now they had to be apart for a few weeks. We as parents had to divide and conquer in order to give both our girls some form of normalcy. It was hard for all of us.”

Since then Isabella has defied all odds. She dances competitively, runs, swims, sings, rides her bike, plays make believe and simply never stops moving.

“When I think about where she was in the first month of her life and how sick she was, I am amazed and grateful at how far she has come,” says Danielle. “I am thankful each and every day to everyone at SickKids. The surgeons, the nurses and the support staff. We made special connections with her nurses in those first few months and still keep in touch. Our heart warrior is now seven years old and although her journey is far from over, she is a determined, smart, beautiful, energetic and a happy little girl. She’s our miracle baby.”

She says her family is lucky, despite “being through hell and back.”  Some heart warriors are struggling every day to stay alive while others can’t fight anymore and earn their angel wings. “Isabella is one of the lucky ones,” she says “We will forever be grateful to Sick Kids for giving her a second chance at life.”

Stories like Isabella’s are what bring riders to Policaro Harley Davidson and on a beautiful ride to Acton for a celebration including a BBQ and live entertainment.

With over 500 riders and almost double the attendees, it is a colourful and stunning display of motorcycles and amazing people joined together to support the children, like Olivia, fighting for their lives.

One lucky raffle ticket holder will win a brand new 2018 Harley-Davidson®

Ultimately the ride is about having a great time, while supporting the amazing work done at the Hospital for Sick Children.

What:  The 10th annual RIDE FOR SICK KIDS.

When: Sunday, August 12th, 2018, registration 8 a.m.

Where:  Registration at Policaro Harley Davidson, 191 Wyecroft Ave, Oakville leaving for Halton Hills at 11 a.m. under police escort.

Destination: Royal Canadian Legion 197 in Halton Hills at about 12.30 p.m. for BBQ lunch, live music and prizes include a raffle for a diverse range of prizes including a 2018 Harley-Davidson®

Ride Day: Fantastic video and photo and audio opportunity with 500 bikes thundering along to Acton.

Pre-Ride: Help us tell the story of the great work being done at SickKids, why it’s important for everyone to give back to their community in any way they can, that saving lives matters.

Contact: Nella Figliano – Chairperson 416-895-5215 nella@rideforsickkids.com. To arrange pre-ride promotion media interviews, photo ops with Isabella and family and participating riders feel free contact me via phone or email.