If you happen to be traveling along a road in Canada this month you may come across a big group of cyclists, dressed in bright red jerseys, with the logo National Kids Cancer Ride plastered across their chests. They are hard to miss. They are a loud, boisterous, tight-knit unit. And they are a special group of people. They are cycling across Canada with one goal: to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer.
For almost five years, when I was Director of the Sears Canada Charitable Foundation, I had the privilege to work with the very special people at the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation to plan and implement events like the National Kids Cancer Ride (NKCR). As they state on their website, on social media, print and in person, Coast to Coast has a vision of a world Beyond Kids Cancer. They are proud that “100% of receiptable donations are invested in improving the survival rate and quality of life of children and their families impacted by cancer.”
The National Kids Cancer Ride is one of Coast to Coast’s flagship events. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Every September, for the past ten years, dozens of cyclists and dedicated volunteers dip their wheels (and feet!) in the Pacific Ocean in British Columbia, and over a period of 18 days they cycle across Canada and dip their wheels in the Atlantic Ocean in Nova Scotia.
They cycle in rain and even sometimes snow. Whether it’s hot or freezing cold, they are out there on the roads. They stop in communities of all sizes and share stories about children and their families impacted by this devastating disease.
Over 10,000 Canadian children are living with or beyond cancer right now, and each year about 1,700 children will be diagnosed. Cancer kills more children each year than every other childhood disease combined. And with this in mind, childhood cancer still receives a much smaller percent of attention and funding than adult cancer. That’s not fair.
So, to help these children, and their families, for the past ten years, dozens and dozens of amazing people have put their lives on hold for a few weeks in September, hopped on bicycles and ridden across Canada. They have raised – and donated – over $10 million – and they have changed lives.
I joined the Riders on the road a number of times and saw some beautiful parts of our country. We met some of the most kind and generous people as we stopped in small towns across Canada. My life was forever affected by the brave children I met who were living with or beyond cancer. I hugged parents who lost their children to this terrible disease.
The cyclists and volunteers I met and traveled with across Canada have become lifelong friends. They are dedicated, keen, wonderful people. They may be cycling through your community over the next couple of weeks. If you see them, wave hello, give them a high five, or better yet, hand them $5, $20, $50, or more. It will change a child’s life, I promise.
Please click here to make a donation to the National Kids Cancer Ride.