We woke up this morning in Glenboro, Manitoba, where our travelling caravan was parked overnight outside of the community centre. It had rained most of last night and there was still a slight drizzle. Breakfast was prepared and served by our volunteer crew after which we convened inside the community centre for the morning circle and ride dedication.
Ty was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukemia at the age of 13. Ty’s many complicated medical issues resulting from the cancer, the treatments, a dual umbilical cord blood transplant, full body radiation and an abundance of side effects had him hospitalized for the majority of four years. Ty’s mental stability was ultimately challenged by extremely long hospital stays, the separation from family, the isolation from friends and the absence of teenage normality. Ty endured over 100 blood transfusions, a bone marrow/stem cell transplant, over 30 surgical procedures and numerous infections which invaded his body. Ty took his last breath 7 years ago today, so today we will ride for Ty.
We rolled out in the cold, damp air onto the wet road, and the spray from our wheels quickly covered us with grit and moisture. The low, dark clouds and strong headwinds added to the dismal riding conditions. Our morning stop was in Treherne, where we were greeted at the municipal offices. We must have looked like a sorry bunch, dripping wet and shivering, but were certainly thankful for the chance to warm up, hydrate and munch on some snacks, before heading back outside to continue our ride.
Our next stop was in Elm Creek, where we had lunch at the Elm Creek Mennonite Brethren Church. A group of parishioners prepared an amazing spaghetti feast for us, with some tasty date squares and other baked goodies. After lunch, we rode a couple of blocks to the Elm Street School, where we were met by at least 150 kids and staff standing along the school driveway as we wheeled in. Everyone went into the school auditorium and we spoke with the students about the purpose of our ride and answered their questions.
The balance of the ride to Winnipeg, about 50k, was very challenging. Although the rain had stopped, the wind was still in our face. We were tired, wet, cold and the road was not the best, with large transport trucks buffeting us with wind as they flew by. We stayed strong until the finish in Oak Bluff, on the outskirts of Winnipeg, where we loaded the bikes into the cube van and shuttled in the RVs to CancerCare Manitoba.
At the hospital, we were welcomed by pediatric oncology doctors and met a 14-year old patient, Amara, and her parents and brother, who live in a rural farming community about 450k from Winnipeg. About 7 months ago, Amara started complaining about pain in her right hip and knee, and a shortness of breath. X-rays and a CT scan confirmed the presence of a mass on her pelvis and spots on her lungs and she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. She has undergone many painful procedures and a very intense chemo regimen, and has spent over 140 days in the hospital. Her mother described the challenges of a split family and the financial hardships they are facing, and thanked us for our efforts to raise funds for childhood cancer research.
We dug into a hearty pasta meal hosted by the Winnipeg Jets hockey team in the hospital board room before heading over to the local GoodLife Fitness facility for a quick shower and change of clothes.
We are now on the road to Kenora, where our journey picks up tomorrow…for the next six days we will be in Ontario!