In 2012, at a meeting of their local HOG (Harley Owner’s Group) Chapter, Dave Ostrowski-Gallant and his wife Nicole were approached by a friend about taking part in the Northern Ontario Ride for Sight.
At the time, Dave and Nicole knew very little about the many diseases associated with vision loss. Soon after, they were introduced to Mac Marcoux, now a 2014 Paralympics Gold Medalist, who lives with Stargardt’s disease – a form of childhood blindness that causes the loss of central vision.
As they learned more about Mac’s condition and the many other degenerative eye diseases that affect over one million Canadians, they became eager to help out. “We could only imagine the debilitating ways in which our own lives would be changed if our vision were lost,” said Dave. This was when Dave and Nicole began their journey with Ride for Sight.
In their first year, Dave and Nicole volunteered on the event’s organizing committee and helped to plan an amazing inaugural Ride for Sight in Northern Ontario at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion in Sault Ste. Marie. The following year, Dave joined on as Committee Chair and lead the planning of Ride for Sight 2013 hosted at Searchmont Ski Resort.
During the 2013 event, Dave and Nicole had a chance encounter with Tanya Boissoneau and Paul Syrette, the parents of Carter Syrette, a 4 year old boy from Garden River First Nation who lives with Familial Exudative Vitreor Retinopathy (FEVR) – a very rare disease that left him completely blind. The couples became close friends over the last couple years, and Carter and his family became the driving force and inspiration for the Northern Ontario Ride for Sight. The family is now an intricate part of the planning committee and helped make the 2014 event a huge success.
Every year, Dave and Nicole have seen the Northern Ontario Ride for Sight grow and thrive and the positive feedback has been overwhelming. In 2015 they will continue to work toward growing the event. “It is more work than we had ever imagined but the rewards outweigh it all,” says Dave. “We have met great people, made close, life-lasting friendships and have had a blast every year once everything all comes together. We see how we can make a change in people’s lives and hopefully find a cure for these diseases. We just can’t emphasize enough how much we look forward to growing Ride for Sight Northern Ontario, and to raising even more money for a great organization like the Foundation Fighting Blindness.”