If all goes according to plan, over 2,000 cyclists will be arriving in Hope on August 25, riding for the common goal of a cancer-free future for all.
Last year, B.C.’s Ride to Conquer Cancer was destined to finish in Hope for the first time in the event’s 10-year history… then a stubborn forest fire on Highway #7 forced the route to loop back to Chilliwack.
It was a first-time ride for Hope resident, Steve Wilson, who said he started out with intentions of helping as a volunteer for the finish line activities. After some reflection, he decided to hop onto the saddle instead, joining the “Brainiacs” team that included his cousin and his cousin’s wife.
Cancer, which afflicts an estimated one half all of all Canadians at some point in their lives, has hit Wilson’s family heavily.
“There are many people from over the years that I am riding for, all punctuated by 2016, when I lost both my mom (Carol) and younger brother (Mike) to cancer and saw my wife, Inge, begin her year-long battle with breast cancer,” said Wilson in his fund-raising bio.
“In recent years, I have seen too much cancer first hand,” he continued. “During that time, I have seen the good work that the BC Cancer Agency does, both in successful treatments and in cases where the disease is too far gone.
“Most recently, I accompanied Inge to all of her breast cancer treatments in Abbotsford. Through her courage and the excellent facilities and people there, she is now cancer free.
“Other than Inge’s treatment, there have been other successes: my friend Bruce, my aunt Doris, my uncle Lyle, our good friend Louise and my retired boss, Bob — all attributable to the excellent treatments that are available in British Columbia,” said Wilson, an engineer for Emil Anderson Construction.
Wilson said he’s covered over 800 km in training, since March, for the ride that entails about 100 km on each of the two days. To qualify, though, every rider in the event has to raise at least $2,500 in order to take part — and Wilson has surpassed that.
“This year, I’ve raised $3,850,” he said, Monday. “Four hundred of that came from Hope Motor Sports, from the Canada Day car show.
“The Brainiacs were founded by four brain cancer survivors,” said Wilson of his team. “Last year, we raised $680,000 — but this year, we’re just barely over $200,000 with three weeks to go. Last year was a special year, with the 10-year anniversary and the first time for the ride being all in B.C.” Previously, the ride started in B.C. and finished in Washington state.
Last year, recalled Wilson, “It was dry for the first 12 kilometres. After that, it was socked in. It was disappointing — but only a small bit of discomfort, compared to what cancer patients go through.
This year — if plans stay on-course — the ride will start on Saturday, August 24, in Surrey and follow a circuitous route to the Chilliwack Fairgrounds, where riders will camp out and enjoy meals and entertainment before heading for Hope, via Agassiz on Sunday morning. Finish line activities start at Sixth Avenue Park at 11 a.m. and continue till 6.
“There’ll be a kind of tour of Hope before getting to the finish line,” said Wilson. “It’ll be cool, for a small town to see.”
In addition to Wilson, be on the lookout for a team called “Wheeled Wild Women,” consisting of Hilary Kennedy (team captain), Michele Drummond, Anne Fortoloczky, Maureen Kehler, Natalie Lowe, Debbie Pauls, Tammy Shields — and a recent recruit, Debbie’s daughter Tansie, who will be riding in memory of her grandma, Dora Pauls, who died of cancer last September.
Riding solo, is Cathy Harry of Hope Kal Tire, who had $1557 in pledges, as of Wednesday. To help her reach the qualifying goal, you can make a pledge at the store, or online at ride.conquercancer.ca/vancouver19.