Cyclists from around Canada are taking part in a cross-country trek to raise money and awareness for kids’ cancer treatment programs.
A group of 24 cyclists rode through Ponoka Sunday, Sept. 13 and stopped at the Wolf Creek Golf Resort before heading to Red Deer. The group is part of two teams that started just three days prior in White Rock, B.C.
Called the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride (SNKCR), cyclists will eventually end in Halifax, N.S. on Sept. 26, just 17 days later.
While the organizations are working to raise funds and awareness, it is the cyclists who bring their own stories to the cause.
Lynn Fast is a Calgary resident who signed up to do the first leg of the ride last year. This year she is riding completely across the country. She says the physical work is demanding but it is worth the effort.
Fast is riding in memory of her daughter who died of brain cancer six years ago. “My greatest reward is to give back; to pay it forward and also by paying it forward it helps me cope with her loss,” explained Fast.
Cyclist Hannah MacKenzie was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2009 and her goal is to be able to tell other kids that life goes on after cancer. After two and a half years, MacKenzie completed her treatment and she was recently diagnosed as cancer free for five years. “This is how I’m marking it.”
“You can still be active post-treatment,” added MacKenzie.
She has volunteered to assist the ride but this year was her first time riding. The only thing she would have done differently to prepare? Train for the ride, she joked.
Carlo di Domizio is the crew chief for Team 1 and he said last year the group raised over $1 million from SNKCR. “One hundred per cent of the donations go to the kids, because it is a volunteer base.”
This year’s ride has already raised $1 million and the goal is to bring it to $1.5 million with the money going to oncology centres across the country to help with cancer research in children.
Cyclists keep busy by singing while riding along the route and the whole event has created a strong teamwork atmosphere. Just before heading out to Red Deer someone blasted the music and cyclists jumped at the opportunity to dance to the Beach Boys’ Fun Fun Fun.
Riding in relay style the teams cover approximately 150 to 220 kms per day depending on the route. The ride is part of the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, which donated $4.85 million to childhood cancer in 2014.