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Hogs for Hospice attracts thousands to Leamington



by Adam Gault

Motors revved and rubber burned as over a thousand motorcycle riders and many more non-riding festival-goers took over Leamington’s Seacliff Park this past weekend to participate in the annual three-day Hogs for Hospice charitable motorcycle rally.

Since its inception in 2016, the event has been dedicated to the creation of a “world class” motorcycle rally that would support the initial and continued funding of the Erie Shores Hospice, which itself opened in 2016, as well as support additional health care funding in Leamington and Essex County.

In just two short years, the event has grown exponentially in size and appeal, raising more than a quarter of a million dollars in the first two years alone, and with it, bringing in countless more riders from across Canada and the United States as the event continues to increase in popularity.

“We’re expecting to totally outperform last year. Just with having two headliners this year, it will be a big deal,” Hogs for Hospice board member, Tim Iles, said, noting classic rock mainstays “Cheap Trick” and country music star Randy Houser would be the musical headliners of the year’s event. “There’s a buzz around town. We’re reaching all over. We’ve got a great network of people and the support from our community is leaving us speechless.”

Looking to provide an even more exciting weekend than in prior years, this year’s event included the addition of an all ages concert area, a custom motorcycle show, an expanded beer gardens, an increase in general vendors, as well as a motocross stunt show.

“Hospice is a place that unfortunately most people are going to have to take a loved one to. So, everybody has a soft spot for it, and the generosity of people in Leamington, I think, is hard to be matched,” Iles said about why he thinks the event continues to have an increase in support and recognition. “The community has bought on from day one, we have a great board, a fantastic source of volunteers, multiple churches involved in this. I can’t say enough, everyone is on board.”

On Saturday morning, the Hogs for Hospice’s signature event, Tour the Tip, took place, which had more than one thousand bikers roar their way to the country’s most southern mainland geographical area at Point Pelee National Park, before making their way westward across Essex County, waving at the throngs of onlookers who came out to cheer them on along the route.

“The feedback [from riders] has been that this is probably the most organized ride that they go on, one of the most organized events that they go to,” Iles explained. “It’s a great feeling.”

Opened in 2016, Erie Shores Hospice hosts families and friends in dealing with end-of-life care and treatment. All programs and services at the facility are provided at no cost to patients and their families, with events like Hogs for Hospice being critical to maintaining that level of service and support.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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