The tenth annual Ride Across Belize initiative of the Social Security Board (SSB) kicked off in Corozal Wednesday morning. It is a charity effort organized by the Board to promote worthy initiatives. CEO Richard Flowers told about the effort; while Chandra Cansino, Organizer of Social Security’s Ride Across Belize told us whom the Board is giving a helping hand to.
Richard Flowers – Chief Executive Officer, SSB:
Today is the 10th Anniversary of the Ride Across Belize program, basically it’s an SSB initiative. Our goal is to try to raise funds and fight different causes, a worthy cause that can benefit from the funds and this year we have two – The Belize Hospice Palliative Care Foundation and the Red Cross Assistance program. What we do is we have a staff/committee that meets and bring up various proposals but we found this year that the need was really there for them especially the soup kitchen for the Red Cross Association and their Assistance Program – they are actually running out of funds so we think this is a critical time and they provide a needed service. The Ride started in Corozal then to Belize City then San Ignacio and then to Dangriga and this year we went all the way to Punta Gorda. Last year we stopped in Placencia but this year we’re going the entire way so it’s a lot of effort.
Chandra Cansino – Organizer:
The recipients for this year are the Belize Hospice Palliative Care Foundation and the Belize Red Cross Social Assistance Program. The Belize Hospice Palliative Care Foundation is a group of volunteers that work countrywide to take care of terminally ill persons.
The Belize Red Cross has their community programs, like the soup kitchen, that are in jeopardy because of lack of funding. So they’re another organization that we will be supporting this year.
For the first time the Ride Across Belize will match its name, as it goes in four stages from Corozal to Punta Gorda. Plus news spoke with Senior Counsel Denys’ Barrow and Chris Berry who participated in the first stage.
Denys Barrow – Rider:
It was a pleasant experience and congratulations to Chandra Nisbet in particular and the Social Security people for organizing again a lovely ride. It was excellent, well conducted and we had one mishap and I hope the lady does quite well shortly, we had a mishap just before coming out of Corozal before reaching the turn off from Libertad, a dog came out and caused Karen to fall but we’re told she’s not in a bad way – so that’s good. Again it was a lovely ride and good company. This is my 5th year – every year I’ve been doing the four staged, I think last year I missed one because of Court. The important this is to prepare, getting your training ride, long hard rides – four, five and up to 6 hours on the weekend and once you have your base then you’re set.
Chris Berry – Rider:
The first stage was not bad. God has been great with us because we’ve had wonderful weather this morning, we started out at 6am from Corozal and we made a 15 minutes stop in Orange Walk at the SSB Branch, and the other stop we did was at Crooked Tree cutoff, and after that it was all the way to Belize City. It was a wonderful ride so far and we’re looking forward to the other three stages.
Why? First of all, I’m a cyclist and I have been riding for 25 years and secondly I am a volunteer with the Belize Red Cross and a part of the proceeds will be going to the Red Cross so it’s definitely a privilege again to be a part of it as well.”
The second stage of the ride left Belize City this morning at six a.m. with approximately 100 riders both professional and recreational. We spoke with Anwar Barrow, who is a member of the social security board; it’s his first ride.
Anwar Barrow – Member SSB:
Well, we had a very good ride this morning. We had a good pace. I was quite surprised because it was a little faster than some of the other social rides that I had been on, but a lot of prepared cyclists were out there. So that was good. It made the ride a little bit more enjoyable, because we spent a little less time in the sun. We’re taking a break now, and then we are heading off to San Ignacio.
I’m looking forward to the other days, because I feel that it will be a good challenge. This is my first time doing the ride, and I understand that tomorrow given the terrain and the hills and the climbs will be one of the most challenging days. So I’m looking forward to that challenge.
Another first time participant in this year’s Ride Across Belize is long time radio broadcaster for cycling Dr. Paul Flowers.
Dr. Paul Flowers – Participant:
For Christmas, after 19 years as a cross-country broadcaster, my wife brought me a bicycle for my Christmas gift. So I started riding late January, early February. This is my first really serious trip at the big one.
I am originally from Belize, and I have moved to Belmopan over the last couple of years. For me riding through Belize was very exciting because I’ve covered the Cross-Country down the Boulevard so many times. Coming into Belmopan now was not as much fun, because as around mile 40, 41, the reality of the road and what it means to be a cyclist had kicked in already, and I was absolutely suffering. I was never more happy that to see Forest Drive that I could remember.
We’re from Cayo, and so most of us are what you call strong cyclists. The city cyclists are fast cyclists. So they brought us up pretty fast, like 18/19 miles per hour. So by the time we hit our familiar ground of the hills, we were already winded and our legs were kind of out, but the next leg and tomorrow is going to be our turn.
We expect to have a better ride now, and a better ride tomorrow, going down to Dangrega.
The Ride stops at all Social Security Branches within the country of Belize with the exception of San Pedro. Today’s stop in Belmopan lasted for about 15minutes where each rider got a snack before making their way to San Ignacio. The group will travel to Dangriga and finally Punta Gorda later this week.