Music Therapy Ride fully escorted by VPD MDT

By Marissa Baecker

No one really needs convincing on how important music is in our lives. The Music Therapy Ride celebrates ten years on September 17, 2011 and while the ride is predominately motorcycles, classic cars and other vehicles are invited to take part as well.

With the support of the Vancouver Police Department’s motorcycle drill team, participants can expect a non-stop ride from Richmond to Whistler taking in some of the best scenery in the Lower Mainland.

“They [The VPD Motorcycle drill team] lead us all the way to Whistler,” said event organizer Patrick Zulinov, assistant program director of Shore 104. “We don’t’ stop at one light. It is like a presidential motorcade. They scoot around us, up to the next light, stop all the traffic for us – all the way to Whistler.”

MTR was established through a collective effort of music industry personnel.

“It is a gathering of all the people in the music industry and the media who are enthusiastic about motorcycles and music therapy,” continued Zulinov.

This year, music producer Chin Injeti (Young Artists for Haiti single “Wavin Flag”) and Vancouver’s own multi-platinum recording artist Colin James will join the ride.

“Music therapy saved my life – physically and spiritually,” said Injeti in a statement. “I went from a wheelchair to a walker to crutches and learned how to walk because of it. I would not be who I am without it.”

“Music is a huge part of lives,” said James in a phone interview. “We read, we listen to music, we eat, we sleep. It’s such a huge part of life.”

To date, the ride has raised approximately $350,000 for the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund and this year, the organization was able to fund a recording studio at the BC Children’s Hospital as well as a mobile recording studio – nicknamed the Band Wagon  – to bring the creativity right to the side of those patients who are bed ridden.

“There is something magical about it [music] that can change your state and bring you to a better place,” Zulinov passionately explains. “If you take the emotion that you get when you feel great about hearing your favourite song on the radio, amplify that one hundred times to a kid who is trapped in a hospital bed healing from some tragedy that we can’t even imagine, and the use of music to bring them out of a bad state and give them something creative to work on, something positive in their lives is amazing. There are kids who have come out of comas hearing their favourite song.”

The band wagon looks similar to a one man band from a circus sideshow. Guitars, built in keyboard, stereo speakers, a big screen Mac computer with keyboard, music software and all of it on wheels. Not only can it bring a huge smile to a ill child’s face but the creative possibilities can cement that smile in time.

“A lot of these kids are terminally ill that are making use of it,” said Zulinov. “What it can do is leave behind a legacy of the child for their parents. The kids can record and leave something behind for their family which is very meaningful.”

This year’s ride is dedicated to 20 year old Megan McNeil, who passed away January 28.

“Music was the one thing that kept her going,” said  Zulinov. “She fought through all the therapies she had to go through because she knew he had the opportunity to work on music again.”

Diagnosed with cancer at age 16, she fought for years. McNeill worked on music with different producers and songwriters while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. According to her MySpace page, she “was inspired by her fight with cancer to write a song to lift the spirits of all the other children around her in BC Children’s Hospital.”

She originally recorded her song Will to Survive at her hospital bedside. The song made its way into the hands of producer Garth Richardson (Hedley and Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and was later re-recorded in a Vancouver studio with the additional support of musicians Ryan McMahon, Ben Kaplan, Dustin Young, Nik Pesut and a chorus of children also battling similar circumstances to McNeil. The video of the recording can be found on YouTube.

“I think people find a lot of consolance and comfort and a lot of creativity [in music],” said James.

Included in this year’s MTR ride is a fabulous breakfast at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, a fully escorted ride to Whistler, lunch at the Garibaldi Lift Company and an afternoon of fun, friends and rider family. There is also an auction and prizes.

Remember the ride is open to motorcycles and vehicles. Corporate sponsorship is available or corporations are invited to sponsor one of their employees to take part in the ride.

The Music Therapy Ride requires registration. Single riders are $300, double $350, vehicles $400. Don’t have a ride? Hitchhikers are $75 and a ride will be found for you.

Can’t make the ride? You can still donate online at www.musictherapyride.org.

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