The sound of dozens of snowmobiles revving on a cold morning will come back to Flin Flon this week. This year’s edition of the Lions’ Journey for Sight will kick off Jan. 15.
This year’s event is similar to those held in the past. Organizers have taken a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality to the fundraiser.
The basic structure is still the same, running down to Brandon via snowmobile from Flin Flon and stopping in a number of Manitoba communities along the way – all riders will go from Cranberry Portage, The Pas, Overflowing River, Mafeking and Swan River before the group splits in two. One crew will go through Pine River, Ethelbert, Dauphin and Neepawa before arriving in Brandon, while the rest will cut south from Swan River through Russell, Roblin and Birtle.
“It’s pretty much the same as it’s always been,” said Brad Henderson, chair of the event.
Snowmobilers doing the northern leg of the event starting in Flin Flon will gather up either at the Walmart parking lot or at the Flin Flon Station Museum Jan. 15 between 9-10 a.m. before heading south, arriving in Brandon Jan. 18.
The ride, which has continued annually since 1986, raises money for the Lions Eye Bank, a charity devoted to providing corrective care for people with vision impairments. Since the event began, more than $2.2 million has been raised for the eye bank – $77,000 raised last year alone.
“The money raised is the only major fundraiser they have for the eye bank. The money goes to cornea transplants and equipment for cornea transplants, plus something for those that need a little help getting to those places or some little bit of specialized equipment,” said Henderson.
“It’s important for everyone to sign their donor cards, otherwise those who need a cornea transplant wouldn’t be able to get one.”
Cash donations to the eye bank can be accepted by local Lions Club members or by going to the Lions Eye Bank website.
“You get the best of both worlds. You get to ride your sled and you get to help other people,” Henderson said.