National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR – Barrie to Sick Kids – for Taissa

What an incredible day. The day dawned clear and coos, and started with some time for family and friends as my wife Janet and son Galen, friends from Crossfit Indestri; Sandy, Scott, Kailie, Steve and Linda, and my brother in law Lloyd dropped by to see us off. And of course, Astrid.

It was wonderful to have these guys there to see how our day starts and to hear what goes on in the morning. We deidicated this ride to Taissa. Taissa is the daugher of my dear friend Ulana, who is a force of nature, and one of the first National Riders that I met. It is no stretch to say that Ulana is one of the main reasons I am on this ride, her passion for the cause and the kids is so evident, and she is an inspiration to me.

Taissa was a beautiful 13 year old girl filled with hope, strength, courage and determination. When she was born she had complications and her parents were told she would never walk or talk. Defying doctors Taissa grew up walking, talking, running and dancing, skiing, skating, laughing and loving. In April of 2000 at the age of 12 she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma – a parents worst nightmare becoming a reality. During her treatments her parents prayed she kept her somewhat feisty yet carefree spirit. Her parents stood by her side as she fought her battle for, and of, her life. Although there were numerous miracles along the way that restored her energy and spirit, sadly they did not last. Taissa passed away on Thursday, March 29, 2001 at the age of 13

After dedication, we began our ride, and as expected it did not disappoint. I believe Ron Mitchell is evil, as he loves to put a good climb after a rest stop, and we had some significant “ups” after our first stop in Beeton. My comment to team “Bacon a Difference” was that we had done more vertical before lunch today than we did crossing Manitoba 🙂

After an incredible lunch, and a $20,000 donation (!) by the team at the SLH/Sears distribution centre in Vaughn, we headed down to Sherway Gardens to meat up with Team 2. The crowd at both the Vaughn Distribution Centre and Sherway Gardens was incredible – so great to see so many people turn out to cheer us in (and out). It was a surprise to meet my friend and great photographer Patricia Homylo Seaton there, and I also had a chance to meet up with Ulana, who would ride with us to Sick Kids.

Leaving Sherway, we had a police escort, all the way to Sick Kids. We rode non stop, without any traffic down Lakeshore Avenue and up University. It was, in a word, surreal. Also a lot of fun. Thanks to the Toronto Police Force for their work in getting us safely across and up to Sick Kids. We were a sea of red, and so many people were taking photos, videos, and cheering us.

We had a great presentation at Sick Kids, with the emphasis on how far treatments have progressed, from radiation and chemotherapy, to medications tailored to each patiient. What we are doing, raising funds for research and building awareness, plays an integral part in making that happen.

Before showers I also got a bit of time to connect with my daughter Katerina as she had a brief break from her part time job. It was wonderful just to sit and talk for a bit. Then it was off for showers, and now back in the RV for a short (this time) shuttle. It’s hard to believe that in less than 1 week, this will be over, and I will be on my way home. But the fight and fundraising will go on. Please consider donating at snkcr.com/richmeesters.

Until next time.

Rich Meesters

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