Whitby boy with autism to bike to New York City for children with special needs

Whitby boy with autism gears up for ride to raise $20,000 for children with special needs
Ten-year-old James Potvin and his father are set to ride their bikes all the way to New York City for their second annual "Ride James Ride" journey. Global News caught up with the pair before they head off Friday.

James Potvin and his father, Chris, are gearing up for their biggest bike ride yet: a nearly 1,000-kilometre trip from Whitby, Ont., to New York City in hopes of raising $20,000 for children with special needs.

Their ride, which kicks off Friday, marks the second annual “Ride James Ride” fundraiser for the pair, who raised more than $10,000 in 2017 for the Grandview Children’s Centre. This year, they say they want to match this donation and also raise the same amount for the EJ Autism Foundation in New York to help kids just like James, who is on the autism spectrum.

“This time, we’re hoping to meet more friends and to support the autism community across Ontario and in New York state,” said Chris, who rode to Ottawa last year from his hometown in Whitby.

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Ten-year-old Potvin is one of more than 3,300 children waiting for services from Grandview, which is the only treatment centre in the Durham region for children with special needs. Its building was designed in 1983 to serve about 400 children per year, but it has been unable to meet the growing demand for its services.

“They don’t have room for him there,” Potvin’s father said. “We’ve been trying to get him the appropriate therapies and the appropriate care he needs.”

A new facility is in the works to replace the old one. It is slated to be built in Ajax, Ont., and is expected to cost $53 million so Chris hopes their donation will help with creating this new centre.

“We’re hoping that James, through this ride, can help people understand how important that centre is,” he said.

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Chris says his son regularly sees a psychologist, adding: “A lot of kids don’t have the same opportunities James does.”

“All of those kids really need Grandview to be able to build their new centre and have the capacity to help them out,” he said.

The father-and-son ride to Coney Island is expected to take two weeks, and Potvin hopes to be able to ride 100 kilometres each day.

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