Still a chance to help out by Friday
WINCHESTER — A vintage motorcycle, a heartwarming family story garnering millions of views on social media: It’s all high-octane gas in the tank for the Zandbelt clan’s virtual participation in this year’s Ottawa version of the Telus Ride for Dad.
Vince Zandbelt has made more than 70 stops in recent days to visit commercial and farm donors contributing to his “Winchester Bike Night” team tally in the 2020 Ride that benefits local prostate cancer research and care. Star of each visit is that motorcycle, the 1956 DKW model that Zandbelt secretly acquired in Holland and gifted back to his father as a surprise 90th birthday present in Winchester, tearfully reuniting the elderly man and his machine after 60 years apart.
At each pledge location, Zandbelt rolls the classic 175cc German-made bike out of a trailer to pose with the contributor. And he’s discovered that donations spur donations. “I got to the one location, and the fellow, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and all his farmer buddies [came forward], and I walked out of there with seven different cheques from seven different farms!” he exclaimed on Monday.
“I’m going to buff up my goal,” he added, noting he had already hit $13,500 — well above his $10,000 target. “I was thinking of going up to $15,000.”
“We’ve had some great responses with donations of $500-plus as well.”
As a gesture to help generate extra buzz about this year’s COVID-19 version of the Ride, Zandbelt similarly spent a couple of days visiting major Ride for Dad sponsors in the city.
The Ride would normally see hundreds of bikers travelling together on routes around Canada. The early-June Ottawa edition typically drove through Chesterville’s Art on the Waterfront event, later wrapping up with a large gathering of participants and enthusiasts at the Joel Steele Centre in Winchester to end the day. But the virus has obviously put the brakes on all of that for 2020. Organizers have instead encouraged riders to “Ride Alone Together.”
Spearhead behind a series of successful Winchester Bike Night gatherings in 2019, Zandbelt decided to take part in the initiative while leveraging the fame already generated online by shared video footage his family’s motorcycle story.
Among the recent donors is a man from Holland, just another of the many connections fostered across the Atlantic because of the resulting attention.
Nephew Reid Zandbelt, producer of the previous viral clips, has been seconded to create another video using photos of the heirloom bike taken at each of the contributing locations. A survey has selected Kid Rock’s Born Free as the backing track.
Individuals have been welcome to donate, too, and anyone or any business that has not yet hopped aboard can still see themselves in the final video: Vince Zandbelt intends to release it in time for the conclusion of the Telus Ride for Dad this weekend. But act fast, he can’t arrange any more photo shoots beyond this Friday night. As a final “last hurrah,” he plans to meet with donors at two spots for photos with the bike — at the Rotary pavilion (Main Street North) in Chesterville and Sweet Corner Park in Winchester.
“Friday is the deadline for getting any kind of recognition on the video part,” he explained. “But if they want to donate after that, it’s fine … I’m sure we can add it to my totals.”
Visit the Zandbelt team’s official Ride for Dad page to contribute and get involved while there’s time.
Below, see the video promoting the Winchester Bike Night team’s Ride for Dad campaign.