Riders set out on 18-day motorcycle relay for charity

Cpl. Alex Millham poses in front of his motorcycle outside the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans club in Sidney on Saturday. Millham aims to complete the entire cross-country tour this year. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Participants in the Military Police National Motorcycle Relay warm up at the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt ahead of leg one of the relay Saturday. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
A lineup of motorcycles, as well as two vintage military Jeeps, parked at the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt prepare for day one Saturday of this year’s Military Police National Motorcycle Relay. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Riders make a brief stop Saturday in Esquimalt on day one of the Military Police National Motorcycle Relay. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
The Military Police National Motorcycle Relay rolls through Victoria’s downtown on Saturday. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Sidney Town Crier Kenny Podmore poses for a photo after delivering a proclamation — the first of two for the day — at the B.C. legislature building on Saturday to mark the start of the 11th Military Police National Motorcycle Relay. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Military Police National Motorcycle Relay riders, as well as a few others who helped escort the tour’s first leg, pose for a photo on the steps of the B.C. legislature building on Saturday. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Military Police National Motorcycle Relay riders head up the Patricia Bay Highway, from Victoria to Sidney, on day one of the relay Saturday. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Viewed from a trailing vintage military Jeep, Sidney Town Crier Kenny Podmore waves as the Military Police National Motorcycle Relay parades through Sidney on Saturday. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
A motorcycle sits parked in front of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans club in Sidney, one of the stops on the Saturday leg of the Military Police National Motorcycle Relay. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)
Sidney Town Crier Kenny Podmore poses for a photo in front of more than a dozen motorcycles in town for the Military Police National Motorcycle Relay on Saturday. The Saturday leg of the tour was Podmore’s first time on a motorcycle in more than 20 years. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)

A major motivator behind Cpl. Alex Millham’s recent motorcycle purchase was this year’s Military Police National Motorcycle Relay.

The Royal Canadian Air Force electric generation systems technician — based in Comox, B.C., for the last five years but who will soon be stationed in Halifax — participated in the British Columbia loop of last year’s relay and aims this year to be one of a handful of riders to complete the event’s entire cross-country trip. The relay raises funds for the Military Police Fund for Blind Children.

“I just got back from deployment in Kuwait over the last winter, so a big chunk of my tour money went towards the new bike,” Millham said.

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Millham joined more than a dozen other riders, including Sidney Town Crier Kenny Podmore and a few Vancouver Island mayors, Saturday to kick off the first leg of this year’s relay. The Saturday trip sent riders from Esquimalt to Sidney and back, with a few stops, including one at the B.C. legislature building in Victoria and another at the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans club in Sidney.

Millham is no stranger to travelling across Canada. He said when he was posted to Comox from Gagetown, in New Brunswick, he travelled across the country in his car, but he noted, with this year’s motorcycle relay, he’s particularly excited for the opportunity to make the trip on his bike.

“I got to see a really beautiful side of the country that I enjoyed, and doing it on a motorcycle just seems that much more fun,” he said.

Podmore, Sidney’s town crier who took part in the Saturday leg, said he won’t forget the ride. The trip was his first time on a motorcycle in more than 20 years.

“What an experience,” he said. “It was just like being treated like royalty. Everybody standing and waving, and the police escort — it was just absolutely awesome. I shall treasure this memory for a long while.”

Podmore delivered two proclamations for the event — one on the steps of the B.C. legislature building and another in Sidney. He also spent several minutes taking photos with tourists on the steps of the legislature building, and he and the other riders were welcomed with applause as they paraded through Sidney.

The entire relay is set to last about 18 days, with riders finishing in St. John’s on the east coast. Major Dale Troia, a military police officer with the Canadian Armed Forces and national chair of this year’s relay, said earlier this week he expects a total of about 300 riders to take part in the tour, with most joining along for only portions of the cross-country trip.

The Military Police Fund for Blind Children aids Canadian children who are visually impaired. The relay, now in its 11th year, raised close to $100,000 for the organization last year and has raised about $600,000 for charity since the first event.

Millham, who started a GoFundMe page to help with his fundraising efforts this year, said his goal is to raise $5,000 for the fund.

Follow the Military Police National Motorcycle Relay on their Facebook page as they post daily updates, facebook.com/groups/MPNMRR.

The Military Police Fund for Blind Children was started in 1957 by Colonel James Stone. For more information visit canadahelps.org.

—- with files from Nick Murray


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