A longtime Tsawwassen family is appreciative of the community outpouring following a tragic bike accident on April 14.
Mike Starko, 57, was out doing his regular Thursday afternoon ride on Sea Salish Way near Tsawwassen Mills when the avid cyclist and triathlete lost his life.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation and won’t be known for some time.
His celebration of life will take place on Friday at the Beach Grove Golf Club, but many residents and family friends have not waited to reach out to wife Kathy and their three children, twins Emma and Zach and Maria.
“It's been very overwhelming. Such an incredible outpouring of love and support from our community. They have told us about the fun stories that how he always made them laugh and smile and just how he helped people. (On Friday) we just want to share in our happiness and sadness together with everyone,” said Kathy. “I just think it's such a great community how people come together and come out of the woodwork basically to show they're caring and this makes me never want to leave.
“We are also such a close family. We really are and were lucky to have such a good husband and father.”
His passion for sports
The family continues to live in the beautiful Pacific Drive home Mike grew up in when his parents settled in Tsawwassen when he was 15. After graduating from South Delta Secondary, he continued his studies at Gonzaga University where he majored in Economics.
Along the way, his passion for sports shifted to the endurance variety, running his first marathon at Gonzaga’s sister school in Florence, Italy, without even training. He would later conquer the Boston Marathon.
It was a sign of things to come as Mike’s triathlon career took flight by competing in hundreds of events in three continents, highlighted by becoming a member of Team Canada at the 2009 World Triathlon Championships in Australia. He even stepped up his endurance on occasion to participate in five Ironman events.
He loved competing, but equally enjoyed seeing other people succeed too, which led to various mentorship roles as his children played a variety of sports.
“He was very competitive, but also would be so happy, if say, somebody was trying to get out and walk for the first time,” continued Kathy. “We would drive down the street and he would be happier for that person than the elite athlete. He always thought it was harder just to start doing something.”
“I think the thing he was most passionate about was getting people into sports. He mentored so many people and he just loved that,” added Emma.
Supporting his community
Mike also used a number of his events to give back to his community through sports-focused charities including Right to Play, which empowers children around the world to overcome adversity through sport.
With all three of his kids coming through Delta Gymnastics’ competitive program, Mike served on the board of directors for more than seven years during a significant time when the club held the biggest fundraising campaign in its history to successfully move into its current facility in Ladner.
In recent years he has been active with the South Delta Riders cycling club, along with the Winskill Otters. He also loved to be out on the water in his boat and, of course, spending time with his family.
His eulogy on Friday will fittingly conclude with: “Forever young, Mike will be endlessly missed. We imagine him on a warm, sunny day with his feet in the sand, Coca-Cola in hand and boat, bike, runners and loved ones at his side – ready to tackle life’s great adventure.”