Thunder Bay

Over $11,550 raised for the Thunder Bay Ont. health sciences foundation during charity bike ride

Michael Vita, a nine-year-old from Thunder Bay Ont., clocked in over 1,000 kilometres on his bike this summer, all in an effort to raise money for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation.

9-year-old Michael Vita biked over 1,000 km during a campaign to raise funds for the hospital

Michael’s 1,000 Km Ride officially wrapped up when Michael, accompanied by his family and cheered on by supporters, crossed the finish line at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre on Monday. (Submitted by Heather Vita)

Michael Vita, a nine-year-old from Thunder Bay Ont., clocked in over 1,000 kilometres on his bike this summer, all in an effort to raise money for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation.

Vita finished his four-month-long journey, coined "Michael's 1,000 km Ride," at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre on Monday, just one day ahead of his September 1 completion goal.

"I can't believe it's over," said Vita. "Back when we started in May, I knew that 1,000 kilometres was a big goal, but I don't think I realized quite how big … this past month has been so much fun as I got to ride with family, friends and some special guests and I could see my goal getting closer and closer."

The journey to 1,000 kilometres was not without some ups and downs along the way. In June, Vita broke his wrist while biking, which left him unable to ride for a few weeks.

"It meant that I would have to do a lot of biking to catch up … I didn't feel like I was really going to make it to my goal," he said, recounting the experience of the set back.

Through support of family, friends and the community, Michael said he felt motivated to keep going once his armed healed enough to get back on his bike.

"My parents would keep telling me about the donations coming in, and I was shocked. I knew that every kilometre we rode meant that we were continuing to raise money for the Hospital and that really inspired me," said Vita.

Supporters joined along the way

Vita had supporters join him along the way on the ride, which included Mayor Bill Mauro, Glenn Craig, president and CEO of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and Dr. Zaki Ahmed, Chief of Staff at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

Zanki and his son joined Vita in early August, on a 40-kilometre ride from Mount Baldy Ski Area to Loch Lomond Ski Area. He called the experience an honour, and said he has been "so impressed" by Vita and his efforts.

"Because of him and the generous nature of those who donated to the ride, we will be able to continue to purchase vital health care equipment that allows our caring team to provide excellent care closer-to-home," said Zanski in a new release on Monday.

As of August 31, Michael's 1,000 Km Ride raised over $11,550 and Vita's team said the grand total is expected to be announced in several weeks once final donations are tallied.

A big boost for the ride came in mid-August, when Impala Canada announced they would match up to $1,000 in donations to the Ride. In addition, Allmar Inc. announced a donation of $1,000 at Vita's finish line on Monday.

Vita's family said the outpouring of support for his cause, matched with the number of donations was a positive learning experience for him. Vita's father said the ride gave them all something positive to focus on, when it seemed like everything else was "turned upside down."

Michael Vita, along with his sister Emily and parents Domenic and Heather celebrated the end of "Michael's 1000 km Ride," on Thursday. The ride raised over $11,550 for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. (Submitted by Health Vita)

"One of the biggest lessons Michael learned was what a generous and caring community we live in. We are truly thankful for every ounce of support he's been shown throughout the past four months, be it donations to the Ride, encouragement from his family and friends, snacks at Nonna's house mid-ride or new gear to help him bike; it's been tremendous, and we cannot say thank you enough," said Domenic Vita.

The money raised from the ride will go toward the Area of Highest Need of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation.

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