Whistler will be well represented amongst the approximately 2,000 cyclists who will be taking off from Vancouver on Saturday (Aug. 27) as part of the eighth annual BC Ride to Conquer Cancer to benefit the BC Cancer Foundation.
The two-day, 250-km bike ride, which ends in Seattle, WA, is one of the province’s largest cancer fundraisers. Since its inception in 2009, it has raised over $70 million in funding for the BC Cancer Agency.
“The money that is raised by the ride to conquer cancer goes towards research,” said ride director Lindsay Carswell. “What this event does is provide us with greater hope for the future. It’s an investment in enhancements to care and additional treatment options.”
So far, Black Tusk resident and emergency room nurse Jacqueline Steglich and her fellow riders on team Boobalicious — Sylvia Mackay, Jeanette Arychuck, Dawn Tonge, Anne Trenaman and Kelly Warner — have raised over $17,500 for this year’s ride. Fittingly, the team has decided to donate all of their funds to breast cancer research, a cause that hits particularly close to home.
Steglich, who is participating in her very first Ride to Conquer Cancer this year, was inspired to register for the event by one of her colleagues. Arychuck was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, and has since been declared cancer-free after undergoing a bilateral mastectomy.
“She asked us if we’d be able to support her and join her in the ride,” explained Steglich. “Another one of the nurses I’m riding with is actually currently undergoing treatment for skin cancer, and then another nurse historically had breast cancer, but she’s now cancer-free as well. So, half of our team has had cancer.”
“I’ve got some inspiration for somebody to ride with,” she added.
Whistler local Michel Chartrand is set to participate in the ride for the third year. He became involved in the ride through his wife Catherine, who will be riding for the sixth year.
“Catherine has lost her dad, I’ve lost my mom, we’ve lost our very good friend (to cancer),” he said. “Everybody involved has either direct dealings with cancer or have lost people. There’s people that ride that are survivors.”
The couple estimates they’ve raised over $60,000 throughout their history with the ride, and $6,000 this year alone.
Chartrand says much of these funds have been raised through ticket raffles for items donated by local businesses like Evolution Lodging Ovations and Araxi.
But the ride is more than just a fundraiser: both participants say the two-day journey is a unique opportunity to support those battling the disease and bond with those that have been touched by cancer.
“It gets really emotional, that part is heart-wrenching,” he said. “It’s the same way at the end, when people have made it through the journey. It’s not a race but it’s a very difficult ride, so at the end people get emotional again. But in the middle, it’s the complete opposite. People are just happy and smiling.”
The ride is more than just a fundraiser: participants say it’s an opportunity to support friends, family, coworkers and even strangers that are battling the disease.
“I think it will be a long day, and it’s a challenge going that distance, but it’s definitely worth it,” said Steglich. “It’s just a… phenomenal cause that we’re working towards.”
To donate to the ride, or to team Boobalicious’ fundraising efforts, go to conquercancer.ca.