Bingo ride puts fun in fundraiser

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Ryan Howden (10) and Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon were among the riders taking part in the Heart Kids Southland charity bingo ride in Invercargill. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

ABOUT 200 cyclists took part in a nine-hour challenge near Invercargill last weekend.

Heart Kids Bingo Ride at Teretonga Park offered the opportunity for people to lap the circuit on bikes while raising funds for Heart Kids Southland.

The charity offered practical and emotional support to about 120 families in the region.

Heart Kids Southland treasurer Ismay Howden said about $11,000 was raised.

Among the riders were Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon and Southern Steel players.

Ten-year-old Ryan Howden also took part in the challenge. He rode 95km of biking from Invercargill to Clinton.

Ryan was born with multiple holes in his heart and a coarctation of his aorta.

He underwent open heart surgery when he was seven days old and now he manages his condition.

Mrs Howden, Ryan’s mother, said he loved cycling and his goal was 100km but they had to make him stop because he was “pushing himself too hard”.

“It was awesome what he achieved. We are very proud of him.”

She said she was overwhelmed with the support of Southlanders in the inaugural bingo ride.

After eight years, the charity had decided to replace the annual ride from Milford Sound to Invercargill with the new event.

She said she was a little afraid, but the success was such that they had already booked Teretonga Park for next year

Mrs Howden believed the event in this format was helped to create greater awareness of congenital heart defects.

“On average, it takes nine hours to perform open-heart surgery. For many of our heart families, that’s the longest hours of their life. So to show their support, groups can get together to complete this fun, nine-hour cycle challenge.”

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