From left, Drew Colangelo, Rowan L’Ecuyer, Jeremy Colangelo, Chris Holmes, and Aidan L’Ecuyer. ILYA RGHEI

Five Fonthill men cycle in support of Black Lives Matter

“We want to make a difference, but we didn’t know how. After learning about the horrific tragedies of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others, we knew it was time for change. Although we can never truly understand the hardships that people of colour endure every day, we stand with you. There are fundamental flaws in our system and we want to help make things right.”

This is the simple, yet profoundly inspiring, reason that Jeremy Colangelo and Aidan L’Ecuyer, of Fonthill, have created their “Ride for Change,” and are going to pedal their bicycles 200 kilometres on Saturday, June 27, to raise funds for the Black Lives Matter Foundation.

They will be accompanied on their fundraising ride by their brothers Drew Colangelo and Rowan L’Ecuyer, and longtime friend Chris Holmes. Ilya Rghei will drive along with them as support.

Aidan and Jeremy have been friends since attending school together at Gynn A. Green and E. L. Crossley. Aidan, 21, attends Brock University as a Geography major, and works locally part time. Jeremy, 20, attends McMaster University, where he is studying Biomedical Engineering and is a part time Teaching Assistant in Mathematics.

The initial idea for the ride was Jeremy’s. After watching videos of the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery on social media, and learning about the Black Lives Matter Global Network, he knew he needed to help. Jeremy was familiar with other cycling-based fundraisers, and he and Aiden loved biking and had ridden together as kids, so he chose Ride for Change as their way to contribute.

Their 200-kilometre route would seriously challenge a professional rider, and illustrates their commitment to facilitating change. The five riders will set out from Harold Black Park at 5 AM on June 27, heading west to Hamilton, where they will drop down the escarpment into Hamilton’s city core along the Trans Canada Trail. Then it’s back up the escarpment to Caledonia, where they’ll follow the Grand River through Cayuga to Dunnville before heading back to Fonthill via Wainfleet.

Jeremy says, “We’ve never biked crazy-far distances like this, but we’ve done decent distances pretty easily, so we thought that this would be a good challenge for us. We’ve given ourselves all day, as long as we need to get it done.”

When asked why this cause resonated so strongly with them, Jeremy responded, “I was very deeply affected after seeing the video of George Floyd. It allowed me to reflect on the important issues in society right now. I just feel now is the time to address the issue, now is the time that we can help to make some significant change.”

“We’ve seen systemic racism, so we wanted to donate to an organization that can raise awareness about these issues. Black Lives Matter has chapters in Canada—Toronto, Waterloo and Vancouver—the United Kingdom, and the US. We feel a large organization like this can help to address the systemic issues.”

Aidan and Jeremy believe that what helps the US will benefit Canada. Aiden continues, “If you wanted to be naive you could definitely imagine that Canada is perfect, and that this has nothing to do with us.”

He then explains that in his opinion Canada too has systemic racism against black, First Nations, and Asian communities for example.

Jeremy adds, “It needs to be more fair, finding equal opportunities here. A lot of time [minorities] are at a disadvantage here, they need to be on the same footing as everyone else.”

Aidan’s experience at Brock, an institution he feels works hard to be inclusive, has shown him how things can be changed for everyone’s benefit. Jeremy echoes this opinion in regard to McMaster, saying, “Growing up in a small town we haven’t been exposed to a lot of stuff like this.”

Their Ride for Change GoFundMe page has already exceeded what they had hoped to raise, as friends and family are sharing the word via social media.

When asked if they wanted a public sendoff for their ride, or people to meet them as they cycle through the many towns along their route, Jeremy replied, “It’s not about us. It’s about being part of the movement.”

The recognition of the need for change, and the willingness of these five young Fonthill cyclists to work toward solutions, would do well to inspire us all.