CORNWALL, Ontario – Cyclists supporting the National Kids Cancer Ride pedaled into Cornwall during the evening of Monday, Sept. 16 to stop for dinner at the Benson Centre, raising awareness along the way.
“It’s the biggest event put on by the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation,” said volunteer Fiona Steele.
Steele, who has been participating in the event for four years, said the process is an “18-day whirlwind.” She explained that riders start their journey in B.C. and travel all the way to Atlantic Canada, rotating teams of riders each day to ensure cyclists have a day of rest. Each rider is required to donate a base amount to cover the cost of the team’s food and gas. The team also utilizes vehicles that transport volunteers and an 18 wheeler that was renovated into a sleeping quarters with bunk beds.
“We’re all volunteers…our whole aim of the ride is to spread awareness…(and) give all of the money away to our cause, our charity,” said Steele, who maintained the group stops in several communities along their journey, sometimes visiting hospitals and care centres.
Steele and volunteer Jennifer Thiedemann voiced that childhood cancer research is incredibly underfunded in the country, with approximately 3 per cent of funds raised from most major donating bodies going to specifically childhood cancer research. Funds raised from the National Ride are set to be donated to 17 pediatric oncology centres across Canada.
“People like to think children don’t get cancer,” said Steele. “Treatments for children are very different for adults…a lot of research in the past was adult based but now 1 in every 285 children in Canada have or get cancer,” said Steele, who believes most treatments are not adequately constructed to best serve children, as they require different care and amounts of treatment drugs than adults.
The ride on Sept. 16 was dedicated to Theidmann’s daughter, Jessica, who passed away from cancer. To read volunteers stories, learn more about the organization and to donate, visit nationalkidscancerride.com.