“We’re ecstatic,” said Paul Taylor Sr., one of the event co-organizers, during a phone interview Sunday. “We were on target for what expected.”
The February 26 event saw 50 riders head out for the trails at 9 a.m. from the starting point at the Place 1967 Restaurant in Plantagenet. The rally is part of the Rides for Autuism series of events launched by ASD Prescott-Russell United that includes last year’s ATV Ride for Autism event and the annual Summer Flotilla along the Ottawa River.
Of the 50 riders who began, 41 finished returned to the finish at the restaurant in the afternoon, after completing the full length of the scavenger hunt challenge along the trails. Taylor noted that a few riders had to drop out because of mechanical problems or else had chosen to just complete part of the trail for their participation in the event.
The February 27 event raised $11,620 from participant pledges and donations from local business sponsors and individuals. All the money will go to the Autism Ontario East Region to help support programs for residents in the region who have autism and also to help support research on autism.
Most of the riders in the inaugural event were from the Prescott-Russell region but there were also several participants from the Ottawa area and also from MRC Argenteuil across the Ottawa River in Western Québec, who had heard about the event through local media.
“The feedback was incredibly fantastic,” said Taylor, adding that many participants enjoyed the scavenger hunt feature of the ride, a change of pace from the usual poker run snowmobile rallies.
“Everyone received a prize of some kind,” said Taylor.
Nicole Taylor, a fellow co-oranizer of the event, noted that some participants also chose to return the gift certificates they received as their prize, so that the certificates could be shared out to area residents who have autism and their families. ASD United will look after distributing the certificates.
“This helps all kinds of people,” said Nicole Taylor, regarding the “generous donation” of unclaimed gift certificates. “The pandemic has made it hard for some families.”
The inaugural Snowmobile Ride for Autism was rescheduled to the February 26 weekend from the original February 19 weekend because trail conditions earlier in the month had deteriorated because of the mild weather. A recent heavy snowfall resulted in “perfect trails” according to Nicole Taylor, who also credited the support of the Eastern Ontario Snowmobile Club for bringing out groomers and volunteers during the week leading up to February 26 to pack down the trails and clear away any fallen branches or tree limbs.
“They spent hours early Saturday morning, until three o’clock,” she said.
After organizers of the Snowmobile Ride for Autism finish reviewing results of the February 27 event, they will take a break before the start of planning for this year’s Summer Flotilla event in July.
Donations are still welcome to the Snowmobile Ride for Autism through either www.RidesforAutism.ca or else by phone to the Taylors at 613-371-4440.