A new fundraising event is coming to Comox, BC, on June 16 at Glacier Gardens Arena at 19 Wing Comox. The first annual Camp Boomer will be set up like that of a military camp where participants can walk, run or cycle the two mapped out routes. Participants have six hours to complete as many loops as possible.
“Each participant will be carrying the biography of a fallen soldier because one of the key aspects of Boomer’s Legacy is that we remember every Canadian fallen soldier who’s died since 2002,” said Camille Douglas, Boomer’s Legacy committee member.
Douglas said the idea behind carrying the biography card pushes participants to run, walk or bike a little harder over the six hours.
“On the bike ride when you’re facing a big hill, the idea is that you look down at the biography of that soldier and together you can soldier on through that effort,” Douglas added.
Boomer’s Legacy was named after Corporal Andrew “Boomer” Eykelenboom. He was a dedicated soldier and Canadian Forces medic. Sadly, on August 11, 2006, Boomer died during a suicide bombing. He dedicated himself to saving others’ lives and helping the people of Afghanistan.
Boomer’s mom, Maureen Eykelenboom, founded Boomer’s Legacy to honour the memory of her son and to “Help our soldiers help others.” She began raising money through hosting galas. The money raised went to Afghanistan to help Canadian soldiers build schools, buy goats for villages, or used towards other supplies they felt were needed at the time.
The idea for Boomer’s Legacy Bike Ride came about before the 2008 gala. One of Boomer’s commanders decided to bike the 225 kilometers from Victoria, BC to Comox, BC, in an effort to clear his head.
“The next year, the gala was in Victoria, so a group of people from here decided to ride their bikes to Victoria for the gala. That was the start of the Boomer’s Bike Ride,” said Douglas.
The bike ride would continue for a decade before it was decided biking on the highway between Comox and Victoria was far too dangerous. Shortly after that, Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) took over Boomer’s Legacy, eventually creating Camp Boomer.
Because Canadian soldiers are no longer in Afghanistan, the money raised from this event will be used for essential humanitarian needs, medical care, and education. Douglas said the money is there for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members to use where they feel there’s a humanitarian need.
“Whatever they see that need is, there’s a straightforward application to receive funds, and then the funds are released to the member. Regardless of rank, the only thing that matters is their intention and what they need or want to do with the money,” Douglas added.
While Camp Boomer intends to raise more money, Douglas said the main reason for the event is to remember and commemorate the Canadian soldiers who have passed away since 2002. At the end of the day, there will be a remembrance ceremony. Participants will remove their biography cards, and they will be placed on a Wall of Remembrance in the order they passed away.
“When you see the number, when you’re a part of that, it’s profound. You get an understanding that on this particular week in Afghanistan, we lost 12 people in a week. That’s the purpose of a Boomer’s Legacy event, is to remember and to commemorate,” Douglas added.
During the day of the event, Camp Boomer will also feature other activities for the whole family. There will be ration packs for tasting, camo face painting, a kiddie boot camp and open cockpits of heritage aircraft and a replica First World War plane.
Registration is still open, so if you are interested in registering for Camp Boomer, you can do so here. You can register as a solo rider, or as a team.