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2nd Chance hitching up on Saturday for 13th annual Trail Ride

When the 2nd Chance Trail Ride heads out of Lindbergh this Saturday on its way up the Iron Horse Trail to Elk Point, it will be for its 13th annual trek to raise funds to promote organ transplant awareness.

LINDBERGH – When the 2nd Chance Trail Ride heads out of Lindbergh this Saturday on its way up the Iron Horse Trail to Elk Point, it will be for its 13th annual trek to raise funds to promote organ transplant awareness and to support those fortunate individuals who receive donated organs and tissue on their healing journey.

Seven of those individuals who were given a second chance at life were celebrated at the very first trail ride on May 5, 2012, led by teamster and double lung recipient Morris Irvine, who had received his second chance only 14 months earlier. Grateful for this opportunity to regain his health and get back at the reins of his favourite team, Irvine had shared his idea of a trail ride to spread awareness of the need for donor organs with neighbor Lionel Romanchuk, who said he was “all for it. It’s an incredible cause. I said, ‘Let’s get it done’.”

In the first ride’s planning stages, fellow double lung recipients Tom Matthews of St. Paul and Harvey Nelson of Heinsburg came forward, and at the evening social that followed the ride, organ recipients Edna Krys, Diane Brown, Lorne Topley and Gail Dustow joined the originators on stage at Heinsburg Community Hall to celebrate their new lease on life.

Eleven more 2nd Chance Trail Rides have followed, the 2013 version “a huge success” with 162 registered riders and what Romanchuk said were “a few who weren’t registered, possibly over 200 altogether.” Proceeds from the equally successful 2014 event went to both the Goodhearts Foundation to support an apartment for transplant patients and the Canadian Transplant Association of Alberta to produce signs raising awareness of the need for transplant organs and urging the public to sign donor cards.

The 2015 ride was “the biggest yet”, with 261 participants, that total shattered in 2016 with 318 riders in the fifth annual event. Rain soaked the 200-plus riders who “cowboyed up” for the 2017 event, this time heading from Lindbergh to Elk Point for the first time. Another new record in 2018 saw 360 participants and 36 wagons headed west, that total dipping in 2019 with 345 riders and drivers.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 slowed but didn’t stop the 2nd Chance tradition, five wagons and six riders following social distancing protocol and the fundraising replaced by online donations, and new pandemic restrictions just four days before the 2021 version brought a shorter ride that paid tribute to deceased committee members, including founding member Harvey Nelson, whose team and wagon were still in the short lineup, a new driver at the reins.

It rained on the parade of 20 wagons and 200 participants riding up Elk Point’s main street at the end of the 2022 Trail Ride, with one participant missing at this end of the trail, after received a phone call en route asking her to head straight to Edmonton for a long-awaited organ transplant. That transplant was delayed for many months, but she was on hand at the 2023 2nd Chance banquet, just 22 days after finally receiving her kidney transplant, the live auction following the banquet including a flower-filled wheelbarrow crafted by founding member Tom Matthews, who passed away the previous summer. 

Registration for this year’s ride starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Lindbergh staging area, with the ride hitting the trail westward at noon. Main Street in Elk Point will be blocked off at approximately 3 p.m. as the ride heads north toward the Allied Arts Centre where the banquet will be followed by entertainment by Hugh McLennan.

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