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Richmond autism non-profit teams up with bikers for fundraiser

Toronto motorcyclists rode their Harley-Davidson bikes to Vancouver to raise funds for the Pacific Autism Family Network.

Around 30 motorcyclists from Toronto rode into Sea Island on a sunny Saturday afternoon in support of a local non-profit's fundraiser for autistic children and their families.

Community members gathered at Pacific Autism Family Network's (PAFN)'s Cessna Drive centre for an afternoon of family-friendly fun with teddy bear painting and performances by children in the community. The East Van Car Club also showed its support with a car display.

With thundering engines, bikers on Harley-Davidson motorcycles rode up to the entrance and kicked off the event.

The Maple Riders had embarked on a cross-country tour to raise money in support of autistic children, and they presented PAFN with a donation generated through the tour.

Kyle Nguyen, director of operations for PAFN, said that the fundraiser was "fantastic." 

"It's great to see, especially post COVID, with all the challenges that have happened, events like this happening - where we can really bring the communities together, and recognize that there is a population of individuals that are out there that we can help support and raise awareness," he said.

"It's really about restarting community engagement that we've seen when we could do large events like this, and having a nice time in the sun as well." 

PAFN is a grassroots initiative created by the B.C. autism community which aims to fill in service and resource gaps in the province, and support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.

"Autism and related disabilities are a pervasive aspect of so many people's lives, that wherever they are on their journey we'd like to help them," said Nguyen.

And these outreach initiatives are crucial for supporting the ASD community.

"There's so much potential in our community," said Lucas Gates, an autistic individual and a self-advocate.

"Right now, we're at a point where people are starting to understand that we're a little different, but that's okay. Because not only our community is different, the whole world is different. No one is one of the same."