‘Hog-rod’ ride revs for Down syn­drome

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RICHARD MAYS

Pho­tog­ra­pher, lawn cu­ra­tor and Har­ley Own­ers Group mem­ber Danny Har­ri­son was so chuffed after suc­cess­fully or­gan­is­ing 2016’s cus­tom bike show in Palmer­ston North’s Arena 3, he de­cided to try a fundraiser for Down syn­drome.

‘‘The [cus­tom] show went re­ally well, but I was try­ing to find a good cause to go with it that would re­ally touch ev­ery­one.’’

It was a talk with a friend who has a Down syn­drome child that opened Har­ri­son’s eyes to the chal­lenges Down syn­drome fam­i­lies faced.

‘‘Down syn­drome chil­dren start life with a speech im­ped­i­ment, but the gov­ern­ment don’t help with speech lessons, and for the first four or five years the kids learn sign lan­guage.

‘‘I was look­ing to start a fundrais­ing event, so I be­gan re­search­ing Down syn­drome, and found a fit.’’

Har­ri­son learned that early in­ter­ven­tion can make a world of dif­fer­ence for a Down syn­drome child and their fam­i­lies.

While this helped en­sure the chil­dren were on the best de­vel­op­ment path avail­able, he said so­cial en­gage­ment that made con­nec­tions, formed friend­ships, built con­fi­dence, en­cour­aged in­de­pen­dence, and pro­vided op­por­tu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pate in the com­mu­nity, were also vi­tal.

Tak­ing up to eight months to or­gan­ise, the first Ride For the Kids in sup­port of Manawatu chil­dren and young peo­ple with Down syn­drome is open to all mo­tor­bikes and hot rods.

Those who drive fam­ily wag­ons can also take part, while the pub­lic is wel­come along to look over the ve­hi­cles and see them off.

‘‘It’s about rais­ing aware­ness and money to sup­port that early in­ter­ven­tion and to pro­vide so­cial en­gage­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. Any­one who reg­is­ters qual­i­fies for the spot prizes. Peo­ple with fam­ily cars are wel­come to come on the run too, or turn up at The Wines for the so­cial af­ter­noon and live mu­sic af­ter­wards.’’

Har­ri­son said the spon­sors had been ex­traor­di­nar­ily gen­er­ous and hoped the ride could be­come an an­nual fix­ture.

Reg­is­tra­tion for $20 is from 9am Sun­day at Anza in Taonui St, with the three-hour ride leav­ing at 10.30am.

The ride ends at The Wines Bar and Grill, Ran­giotu Rd, Hi­matangi where prizes will be given out and the money raised handed over to the New Zealand Down Syn­drome As­so­ci­a­tion.

SUP­PLIED/DANNY HAR­RI­SON

Lily Romeril, 10, is all set to Ride For The Kids.

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