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Calgary motorcycle charity scraping by due to carnage on Alberta roads

Carnage on Alberta roads has motorcycle charity scraping by
WATCH ABOVE: Motorcycle crashes are up on Calgary roads. The organization One Broken Biker says it’s making a public plea for donations after seeing a spike in requests for help. Tracy Nagai reports

His leg is covered in angry red scars and two canes are now required to get from point A to B. It’s a far cry from Darren Pettifer’s preferred mode of transportation: his motorcycle.

“There’s no real feeling like it. It’s kind of a break from the everyday and off you go and kind of forget about life for a little bit.”

READ MORE: ‘We could hear the crash happening’ – Alberta motorcyclist describes carnage

On July 19, 2015, Pettifer was thrown off his bike after being hit by an SUV in Bragg Creek, west of Calgary. His leg was pushed into his pelvis and he is now on a wait list to receive a new hip.

The motorcycle enthusiast spent many months in hospital replaying the crash in his head.

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“Why me? I didn’t know really what the future would hold. Still don’t really, I haven’t worked in a year since the accident.”

But for people like Pettifer there is somewhere to turn: the motorcycle group One Broken Biker has helped more than 80 people since its inception four years ago. The charity was created after Calgarian Glenn Lyth was run over on Deerfoot Trail.

“I ended up with two broken vertebrae in my neck, four in my spine, most of my ribs, various other breaks and I ended up paralyzed in my left arm as a result of the accident,” Lyth said.

Throughout his recovery, Lyth’s daughter, Ashlee, was by his side.

“Ashlee stayed with me in the trauma centre for a week to hold my hand, feed me ice chips, just to look after me,” he said. “She wouldn’t leave. As a result of that she became acutely aware of the costs involved in having someone in hospital.”

Glenn Lyth in hospital after he was thrown off his motorcycle in 2012.
Glenn Lyth in hospital after he was thrown off his motorcycle in 2012. Provided to Global News

One Broken Biker offers an array of emotional and financial support. The organization will fly in an injured motorcyclist’s family from out of town, provide care packages and cover lost wages.

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“We try to pick up where insurance leaves off and pick up those costs that aren’t covered,” Lyth explained.

But this year, the organization is struggling. Members say requests for help are up and the calls are constant.

“The number of riders down this year is astronomical compared to past years. The crashes also seem to involve multiple motorcycles.”

The Calgary Police Service’s traffic unit numbers show there were 143 crashes between January and June of 2016, compared to 122 during the same time last year. Motorcycle crashes are also up five per cent from 2014 to 2015.

READ MORE: 1 motorcyclist killed, 5 injured in crash south of Pigeon Lake 

“We have two poker runs a year in Calgary and they keep us going in the summer months and then we have a silent auction. The number of people we’re looking after this year has put a strain on us financially so that we’ve had to go out and make a plea for public funds,” Lyth said.

Pettifer doesn’t know if he’ll get back on his bike again. But he hopes One Broken Biker will be there for someone else in their time of need.

“This is the one charity that puts back into the motorcycle community.”

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One Broken Biker has a memorial poker run on Aug. 26 and a fall poker run on Sept. 10.