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Gran Fondo Celebritiy Riders 56098 The Beach’s Brian Longmire was the first of four celebrity riders to register online at the Gran Fondo launch event August 16. From left, Dana McDonald, Christine John, Brian Longmire, Bill Buckton and Multi-Sport Canada’s Jason Vurma.

Hub Staff

From a 30 kilometre ’Farm to Shore and Back’ to a 70 kilometre ’Winding Past Windmills’ to a 110 kilometre ’Pretty in Paisley,’ and finally a century (160 kilometres or 100 miles) ride called ‘Bruce County Bucket List,’ the upcoming 2018 Gran Fondo fundraiser for the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation (SMHF) is designed to challenge the serious cyclist as well as please the recreational rider.

Roughly translated, Gran Fondo means “big ride” and SMHF has partnered with Multi-Sport Canada to create a just that, a ride that will hopefully draw cyclists from as far away as the United States to participate and visit “our beautiful agricultural areas, First Nations land and the Lake Huron shore,” said SMHF Executive Director Sally Kidson during a fundraiser launch event at the Plex August 16.

The fundraiser is set for August 18, 2018 with a financial goal of $100,000. Organizers hope to attract 1,500 riders with a minimum pledge of $100 each. In addition to the 30, 70, 110 and 160 kilometre rides, a children’s ride will also be available.

Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau spoke at the launch and expressed his support on behalf of the Town of Saugeen Shores. “It strikes me that this [Gran Fondo] is really the be-all and end-all of fundraisers that you could have for the Hospital Foundation. First off it raises money for the hospital, which is great, but it also supports and promotes a healthy lifestyle... and it promote tourism in our area,” said Charbonneau, later adding that the need for fundraising “is not over.”

“We need to keep doing more to support local healthcare and let everybody know how important local healthcare is,” he said.

Holding her one year old daughter Kyleigh, Port Elgin mother Kristy Buckton spoke about the importance of keeping health care close to home, as last fall doctors at Saugeen Memorial Hospital saved Kyleigh’s life who was then 5 months old. Kyleigh was born with a congenital heart defect and when she became ill, she was brought to the Southampton ER before receiving lifesaving surgery at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

“I can’t thank them enough because they saved her life,” said the tearful mother. “This is why you're raising the money, she is why you’re raising the money,” she said.

Following the heartfelt speech by Buckton, Jason Vurma of Multi-Sport Canada announced that the Gran Fondo Lake Huron website is now live and includes a registration link. Visit

Verma said the team, in partnership with SMHF, are coming up with “amazing concepts and routes” that will create a “unique riding experience.”

The first four people to register for the upcoming Gran Fondo were four local celebrities, 98 The Beach’s Brian Longmire who signed up for the 30 kilometre route, national fastball player and tri-athlete, Dana McDonald of Martin’s Bicycle Shop; celebrity cyclist and runner, Christine John and Saugeen Shores Sports Hall of Famer Bill Buckton, who singed up for the 160 kilometre century ride.

Kristy Kyleigh 560Kristy Buckton holding her one-year-old daughter Kyleigh gave a heartfelt speech at the Gran Fondo launch.

SMHF 560Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation's (L-R) Past Chair Jonna Ebel, Sara Dolbeck, Mary-Jo Arnett, Susan Dunlop, Mary McCallum, Chair Jim Barbour and Joan Vaughan at the Gran Fondo launch at The Plex August 16.

Max Cooper 560Max (3) and Cooper Ring (8) were at the Gran Fondo launch August 16 in support of their grandfather, celebrity rider Bill Buckton.