SMU student organizes bike hike for foundation

Fundraiser makes $40,000 in its third year

Bastarache with the crew of the HCMS Fredericton.

Rachelle Bastarache had the privilege of helping young children this past summer when she worked for the Children's Wish Foundation in her home province of New Brunswick.

Bastarache is a second-year commerce student at Saint Mary's University. She's been volunteering for the foundation since Grade 11 and last summer got the chance to be the acting fundraising co-ordinator for the foundation.

The Children's Wish Foundation is a Canadian-based non-profit organization that was established in 1984. The foundation's mission is to grant wishes to children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.

Her major contribution was organizing the annual bike hike, which travels from Miramachi through to Fredericton. The 16 cyclists are crew members of the HMCS Fredericton. They are split in to two teams, with one team cycling through the northern part of New Brunswick and the other through the southern part of the province. The hike began on August 16 and went until August 20. Bastarache calls the bike hike "the baby" of New Brunswick chapter director Gerry Beresford.

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Dominic Constant, fleet logistic officer for the HMCS Fredericton and Jean Irving at her home in August of this year.

Children's Wish Foundation Facts

  • Established in 1984.
  • Chapters in every province and territory over Canada.
  • Has granted more than 17,000 wishes, 900 wishes annually.
  • They never turn down a child

It also owes much to Jean Irving, a member of the province's Irving business empire family, who was the event's biggest donor.

Irving donated $26,000 towards getting the bike hike started three years ago. To fundraise for the hike this year, Bastarache organized barbeques as well as a karaoke bar.

Bastarache feels the biggest challenge facing the Children's Wish Foundation is something that is actually a good thing - that there are other charities fighting for the same cause. One advantage she thinks the Children's Wish Foundation has over other charities is the trust people have in the foundation.

"Unlike most societies, they see where the money is going."

She says it's important that children from the foundation actually came to the event, which encourages people to donate money to the foundation.

"It's a big motivator for people."

This year the Bike Hike made $40,000, surpassing the cyclists' goal of $32,000. Beresford says he was impressed by Bastarache's work.

"She had organizational skills not normally displayed by a student. This was witnessed during the highly successful fundraiser she held at (several) high schools in Saint John."

After high school she came to Saint Mary's University on a Presidential Scholarship. During the summer of 2010 she went back to her home province of New Brunswick to work for the Children's Wish Foundation. She says she will take this summer off in order to find a job related to her commerce major.

However, when asked if she plans on working with the foundation in the future her answer is this: "absolutely."

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