The local Motor Patrol unit is looking to round out its corps in order to help sick children.
The unit practises Wednesdays, weather permitting, at the Manitoba Hydro parking lot at 820 Taylor Ave. in advance of summer parades in rural Manitoba. The unit is set to be involved in parades in communities such as Gimli, Altona, Morden, and Grand Forks, N.D. this summer.
The unit currently has 19 members who come from neighbourhoods ranging from Charleswood to Transcona, with 11 of those being active riders who ride in patterns in parades. They hope to get up to 20 riding members. Members range in age from 48 to 72, and the group is looking for some younger blood.
The unit’s primary fundraising is through its dues, which raises between $2,500 and $3,500 per year, though some parades give the patrol an honorarium which goes straight to helping children. The unit has helped with everything from getting a wheelchair lift for vans to renovating houses to make them accessible.
"We don’t give money to the big causes," said president Bob Norris, who lives in Cooks Creek.
"We learn of individuals who have a sick kid, and maybe they need help getting transport to Toronto."
East St. Paul resident Vern Gudmundson, the organization’s captain, said the unit tends to attend benefit socials to donate funds to families.
"We’ve done whatever it takes because we believe in the story," said Gudmundson, who said the organization takes its time researching those asking for donations, adding no funds have been "ripped off" by hoaxes. "We make calls, we check things out. If there’s a social, we like to do that because we like to have some visibility and acknowledgement for what we do."
After practice each week, the group goes to the Pony Corral on Grant Avenue for wings and drinks, and the fundraising even continues there.
"There are times we hear about something and we pass the hat," said Norris.
Those looking to get involved with riding or who could use help from the organization can contact Gudmundson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 204-227-3010. He encourages those in need to get in touch.
"We find it hard to go to direct sources," he said, noting the club works to ensure all the money it raises goes directly to children.