Mackenzie Clark is taking his love of animals to a whole new level and he’s asking fellow Brandonites to come along for the ride.
The 12-year-old has organized his first Pedal for Paws fundraiser, raising money for the Brandon Humane Society one kilometre at a time.
Starting with a 10-kilometre bike ride on Saturday at the Pedal for Paws kickoff, Clark will cycle 150 kilometres throughout the next few months.
Clark, a Grade 7 student at École Harrison, has walked in the Brandon Humane Society’s Wag-a-Tail Walk-a-Thon event in previous years, but this year he said wanted to do something above and beyond.
"I always thought it was a really good cause, and I just kind of thought I should take my love for animals to the next level and try and help out more," Clark said. "Since I’m too young to volunteer at the Humane Society I thought I could raise money instead."
The kickoff is open to anyone who wants to join the bike ride or just come and show support, Clark said.
"If people would like to donate they can, but it’s just a fun ride that people who love biking can take part in and show support as I start," Clark said.
Clark has a lofty fundraising goal of $3,500, but considering he raised $3,456 at last year’s Wag-a-Tail Walk-a-Thon, he’s pretty confident he can reach it.
"In the past, when I’m fundraising people start to recognize me and learn more about the cause," Clark said. "I’m hoping that it will get a bit bigger, but if not that’s OK because I’ll still put in the effort to make sure there is still as much money as possible to donate."
And every dollar raised will go straight to the Brandon Humane Society, he added.
"All the money goes toward food and medication for the animals there," Clark said.
Clark’s interest in the humane society started when he was little, he said, growing up with two dogs his stepfather brought to the family.
"We were kind of brothers," Clark said with a laugh. "I ended up asking where they were from and they were from the Humane Society."
Clark said the more he learned about the Brandon Humane Society the more he loved the organization.
"For me, it’s really inspiring that they put in all this time just to help out the animals," Clark said. "Some shelters — it’s really sad — but if no one adopts the animals after a while they end up just putting them down, but at (Brandon Humane Society) the people there don’t get paid, they volunteer, and they still don’t put any animals down, even if they don’t get adopted."
Clark said he is also excited to introduce a new member of his team on Saturday — a puppy his family was fostering but decided to keep.
"We actually just started fostering two new puppies, and this morning one got adopted, but we fell in love with the other little guy, so he’ll be with my mom accepting donations," Clark said.
The bike ride starts at A&L Get Active at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, with speeches by Clark and Mayor Rick Chrest kicking things off.
The 10-kilometre ride will circle around the area and back to A&L Get Active, where snacks will be provided for riders.