This ride is a very special opportunity for me, and those of you who support me on this journey, to make a difference in the lives of children, and their families, living with cancer. I have been very fortunate over the years: lucky to have a wife and family who are healthy; but cancer affects countless thousands of families across Canada. My sister Diana, who was 8 years younger than me, lost her battle with cancer in 2006. My parents never fully recovered from that loss. We attend an annual family reunion south of Kincardine, Ontario and several family members are no longer with us because of cancer, and others who are still with us had to endure chemo and other cancer treatments when they were as young as 4 years.
The daughter of one of my closest friends was the same age as my oldest son, but because of cancer, Taissa has only been with us in spirit since shortly after her 12th birthday. The memory of Taissa motivated her mother, Ulana, to do the National Kids Cancer Ride twice, as well as countless other kids cancer fundraisers over the years.
Just prior to the 2010 National Ride, we participated in the Ontario Tour For Kids cycling fundraiser for kids cancer and I had the pleasure of riding with a young hockey player by the name of Adam, who not only was an exceptional athlete and musician, but went out of his way to provide help to older and heavier riders who were struggling with the distance and heat. Adam would literally push them up hills by gently placing his hand on the small of their backs. Adam fought the fight against cancer, he was a true champion, but slipped out of our lives in early 2012.
At the start of the 2010 National Ride we visited the British Columbia Children’s Hospital and I recall listening to a young teenage singer, Megan McNeil, who’s voice was so clear and vibrant that it took my breath away. I was deeply shaken to learn that she had passed away mere months after we finished that ride.
At a recent fundraising event in Seaforth, Ontario I was made an honorary member of the Van Dyk family. Nick Van Dyk was only 19 years old when he passed away from cancer in 2008. Remembered as a perpetually upbeat teen that cherished his friendships, his passing motivated his extended family to organize an annual “Toss’em up for Childhood Cancer” ring toss (Texas Horseshoe) tournament to raise funds for crucial research on the disease. At the 10th annual tournament, a special ceremony paid tribute to 6 families that have come together alongside the Van Dyk family at these tournaments and who have lost a family member to childhood cancer. Each of the six children were represented by two balloons of their favorite childhood color. When the balloons were held together, they formed a rainbow of hope. It was said that rainbows require both a storm and sunshine to exist and for me that fundraising and other efforts to cure cancer are the sunshine against the cancer storm. I am riding so that more research is funded, which in turn will bring a little more sunshine to the families living with kids’ cancer.
Your support is needed – Your donations will go directly to the important childhood cancer charities across Canada that this ride supports. Please help us with this journey by donating, and following along as I ride.
About Childhood Cancer:
The causes of childhood cancers are, in most cases, unknown. The types of cancers that occur in children vary greatly from those seen in adults. They tend to respond differently to treatment. Leukemias, brain and other nervous system tumours, lymphomas (lymph node cancers), bone cancers, soft tissue sarcomas, and adrenal gland cancers are the most common cancers of children. The National Kids Cancer Ride funds research and other programs that improve the lives of children living with cancer. For more information of the Foundation’s work, please visit https://coasttocoastagainstcancer.org.