|McMurdo Games legacy continuing with essay contest for youth|
|Local Content - Local Sports|
|Written by Greg Price|
|Wednesday, 09 April 2014 15:37|
The memory of Joe McMurdo and his influence on the Southern Alberta Summer Games will live on through an essay contest to benefit cycling enthusiasts.
McMurdo, who had been involved in the Southern Alberta Summer Games since its very inception, passed away in mid February, leaving a void that may never completely replaced. As a tribute to his legacy, adopted niece Patty Moyer is taking the limited funds she was able to gather up and make an essay contest for children.
“As everyone knows, Joe was not wealthy by any means and I have a little bit of money set aside and I wanted to set up a contest in his memory,” said Moyer.
Divided into three age categories of up to eight years olds, 9 to 12, and 13 to 16 years old, the essay must entail why cycling is so important to them with a 75-word minimum.
“I don’t care if it’s 75 words or 20 pages,” said Moyer. “The essay must say why cycling is important to them and if they had any involvement in the Summer Games, and if they knew Joe, the impact he had on them.”
Moyer, along with Nola Williams and Janny DeVlieger, two other cyclists which McMurdo had a huge influence on, will serve as a panel and pick the best essay in each category where the winner will get a $250 gift certificate from a Lethbridge cycle shop toward the purchase of a new bike or cycling accessories. Any item purchased over that amount will need to be covered by the family itself. The owner of the shop has agreed to offering a further undetermined discount on top of the gift certificate towards the purchase of a bike.
“I can do this for two years. I have $1,500 to put towards the cause,” said Moyer.
Moyer is McMurdo’s only living relative as an adopted niece. McMurdo had a tough childhood growing up with abusive parents who beat him many times, according to Moyer. An angry teen who retaliated, McMurdo was sent to a detention home in Ontario at age 15.
“He was there for a year and my mom and dad adopted him when he was 16,” said Moyer. “My mom was a country/western singer and my mom and dad did a performance at this detention centre and they met Joe and kind of fell in love with him or I don’t know what and within a week he was living with us. He was my ‘uncle’ from the day I was eight years old and we were always very close and a very important part of my life.”
McMurdo’s dedication to children and the Taber Cycling Team for the Southern Alberta Summer Games stemmed from his rough upbringing, and wanting to keep kids off the streets and involved in healthy sporting activities. Moyer got involved in the Southern Alberta Summer Games in equestrian where Joe would always try to come and watch her events when they didn’t conflict with his cycling responsibilities at the Games.
“He didn’t really care what sport it was, but cycling was his choice,” said Moyer, adding McMurdo played many sports growing up, including football, basketball, and softball, and was a provincial all-star first baseman. “He didn’t have a good childhood and he wanted to make sure other kids did.” she said.
Forever grateful for rescuing him from an abusive childhood, McMurdo won a gold medal in the Alberta Games in cycling along with the Max Gibb Award. McMurdo’s adopted mom Alice had passed away and so Moyer took McMurdo to the her grave site, and dug a hole above the grave and put his gold medal into it.
“He said, ‘this is for you, mom. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have become the person I am’,” said an emotional Moyer. Â
From the year McMurdo got involved in the Southern Alberta Summer Games cycling event, the M.D. of Taber team only lost the total point/medal title twice. Both those times it was when SASG organizers steered the event away from being a family event and more into adult cycling.
“He fought that,” said Moyer. “He wrote letters to get things changed. He fought for those kids, they were his kids for as far as he was concerned. Joe never married and never had kids, but the Southern Alberta Summer Games (M.D.) cycling kids were his kids.”