Boomer’s legacy: ‘Helping our soldiers help others’ 0
Cpl. Andrew ‘Boomer’ Eykelenboom
Boomer’s Ride, the trademark fundraising initiative for the charity Boomer’s Legacy made its way through the Ottawa Valley on Aug. 25.
“Money raised for the charity goes to ‘helping our soldiers help others’ where ever in the world our military members are deployed, whether home or abroad,” explained Maureen Eykelenboom, using the charity’s motto.
She created the charity after her son Cpl. Andrew “Boomer” Eykelenboom was killed in Afghanistan.
Since 2006 the legacy has raised $750,000, which has funded many projects like a midwife training program for women in the Kandahar area, surgery for a 14-year-old with a gun shot wound to the right humerus, medical care for a 4-year-old with a spinal injury, seven ventricular spetal defect (hole in the heart) surgeries for children, purchased science equipment for Shamsuddin Kakarrh High School, and replaced a farmer’s a flock of sheep that was blown up by a Taliban IED.
The initial Boomer’s Ride took place on Vancouver Island in 2008. Participants pedalled from Victoria to Comox. The ride takes place annually.
“On Saturday the ride was an opportunity for some committee members to assess the distance from Ottawa to Petawawa and the challenges the ride will present, so next year Boomer’s National Capital Ride can be designed to meet the needs of riders with a range of skills,” explained Ms. Eykelenboom.
The riders started off at the Byward Market and biked to the Petawawa Golf Course.
“I did the ride to support Boomer’s Legacy and what it stands for,” explained Master Seaman Mike Spence. “I am on the planning committee here in Ottawa and specifically wanted to ride from Ottawa to Petawawa to generate awareness for next year’s ride.”
He added the unfamiliar route along with the “extremely hot day” made the ride challenging.
On Aug. 11, 2006, hours before Andrew “Boomer” Eykelenboom was to board a plane and return home from his six-month deployment, however the 23-year-old medic lost his life to a suicide bomber in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan.
As Maureen flew from British Columbia to Ontario she watched and re-watched her son’s ramp ceremony at Khandhar Air Field. She knew she had to do something to continue the work her son had started.
That was six years ago and in that time Maureen has been the primary force behind the legacy.
Next spring the charity is hosting a Boomer’s Ride in Renfrew County, likely from Petawawa to Ottawa.
This year the ride coincidentally fell on the same day as the 4th annual Sean’s Smile Charity Golf Day, which also raises money for Boomer’s Legacy. The bikers arrived at the golf day dinner.
The day on the links is held in honour of Sapper Sean Greenfield who was killed by a roadside bomb on January 31, 2009 while deployed to Kandahar. Sapper Greenfield grew up in Petawawa and attended General Panet High School. Annually friends and family gather for a day on the links in his honour.
“We were all good friends with Sean. We are here to support the family and Boomer’s Legacy and the good work they are doing for women and children in Afghanistan,” said Sean’s Smile organizer Sean Korim.
Sean’s mom, Penny Greenfield added it is “a place where a lot of friends can come and do something together for a cause.”
For more information about the Boomer’s Legacy visit boomerslegacy.ca.
Cyndi Mills is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist