Miriam Stirling, of the Brule Shore, is shown visiting a Hope for AIDS, Alafia Clinic at their home in West Africa. Stirling has worked at the clinic for the last six years. Submitted photo

A fundraising cycling event to support orphaned children in West Africa is coming back to the North Shore.

Miriam Stirling is hosting, for the fourth time, the Spokes for Hope: Hope for AIDS, Alafia Clinic this September beginning at Blue Sea Beach.

“I’d been working as a nurse here in Tatamagouche, but knew of the needs there,” said Stirling, about the Hope for AIDS, Alafia Clinic in Benin, West Africa. “I was raised in Senegal as a missionary kid.”

The clinic treats about 450 patients a year living with HIV or AIDS, with about 10 per cent of those patients being children under the age of 15. The money raised through Spokes for Hope goes specifically toward the children at the clinic.

Working at the clinic fulltime, Stirling said most of the children are orphaned because their parents died from HIV/AIDS.

“They visit the clinic about once a month,” she said, adding they also do home visits. “We supply them with food, school supplies and any other medications they may need.”

One of the things Stirling enjoys the most at the clinic is offering a vocational bible camp for the children. Funds raised from this year’s bike-a-thon, which begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 9, will go toward sending 10 people from the Crossroads Baptist Church in Valley on a missions trip to help with the program.

“A group from the church has been wanting to come visit and they asked what they could do,” said Stirling. “I proposed the bible camp and they jumped on board.”

The bike-a-thon will feature three different lengths for riders – 5, 25, or 50 kilometres. Stirling said most of the roughly 50 participants choose the longest ride.

“Anyone who has done the 25 kilometres always say they could have done more,” said Stirling. “That’s the part I like the best – some people have almost never biked before, but many have become avid bikers since Spokes for Hope.”

Following the bike-a-thon, there will a barbecue at Blue Sea Beach in Malagash.

For more information on the event, including how to get a pledge sheet, visit the ‘Spokes for Hope: Hope for AIDS, Alafia Clinic’ page on Facebook, or http://valleycrossroadschurch.com/home/spokes-for-hope/.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. the day of the event.