St. Marys Journal Argus
It took two years of advance planning, but St. Marys resident Ashley Agar, organizer of the annual Evan’s Touch The Truck childhood cancer support centre fundraiser, is very confident it will be worth the wait.
The Golden Helmets precision motorcycle team, operated out of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) force’s Orillia headquarters, is scheduled to put on a display of tricks, stunts, and precision riding starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13 on Queen Street in downtown St. Marys. Following their performance, the 18 operators of the OPP Harley-Davidson bikes — the same ones used by the force in its highway patrols — will proceed to the Flats and have their machines on display as part of the annual Evan’s Touch The Truck festivities.
“It should be an amazing show!” Agar enthused, speaking with the Journal Argus earlier this week.
The Golden Helmets team was formed in 1963, explains a page about the precision motrocycle troupe on the OPP’s website. It comprises OPP officers on regular patrol duties, including a Ride Master, Commentator, a motorcycle technician and the riders. Each team member must have successfully completed a three-week motorcycle course and at least one season on motorcycle patrol.
The motorcycles used by the Golden Helmets are Harley Davidson Police Specials. They have 1690 c.c. engines and weigh 800 pounds. During each 30-minute performance the riders take their machines through a series of complex patterns, which are intended to demonstrate the maneuverability of the machines and the riders’ skills.
Although a nucleus of the team stays on from year to year, there are always changes and each spring new members have to be trained. The team executes an average of 30 performances per season, which runs from June to September.
Evan Leversage, Agar’s cousin, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour just days before his second birthday. While receiving treatment in London, Evan and his family benefitted greatly from the support provided by Childcan, an organization dedicated to helping families through the trials of having a young member of the family battle cancer.
Agar organized the first Evan’s Touch The Truck as a way to give back to Childcan, which operates on a charitable basis. In last year’s third annual event — which features dozens of types of machinery and specialized vehicles on display around Milt Dunnell Field, for the young and the young-at-heart to experience — $8,000 was raised for Childcan.
This year’s Evan’s Touch The Truck runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Flats. Agar promises all sorts of trucks, rigs, cars, buses, tractors and other rides for visitors to explore. “Too many to list!” she smiled.
Back from last year due to popular demand are the “Little Drivers Zone” of pedal-powered machines, and the “Art Car,” upon which youngsters are invited to paint their colourful designs.
As in past year’s, the 2014 event will include a barbecue, tattoo station, a silent auction and prize draws. An extra special element of this year’s prize draws is a $5 ticket to win a signed hockey stick, autographed by the entire Toronto Maple Leaf team. Tickets are available at Action Health Care on Queen Street East, or at the event on Saturday.
New this year is a bouncy castle. And from 10 a.m. to noon, Queen Elsa, the main character from movie Frozen, will be on the grounds to entertain visitors.
If you keep an eye out, you may even see the biggest celebrity of the day: the soon-to-be six year-old one-time cancer patient after whom the event is named.
“Evan’s doing fantastic,” Agar reported. “He has just entered Grade 1 and will be six on Sunday. His tumour is considered stable at this point, which is pretty much the best his family could have hoped for.”
Her cousin’s good fortune, however, hasn’t dimmed the St. Marys woman’s drive to continue supporting Childcan, the organization that helped so much when Evan’s family needed it most.
Held at the same time as Evan’s Touch the Truck is the St. Marys Ford dealership’s second annual edition of the Ford of Canada company’s Test Drive 4UR Community fundraiser, held on Water Street next to the Green Bridge. Charitable organizations receiving funds this year are Hope For Haiti and the Forest School program at Little Falls Public School.