I wasn’t lucky enough to meet her. I know many people who had the privilege to be in her presence. The world is a better place today because of the 18 years that Rebecca Schofield spent with us. Becca died this weekend after living with brain cancer for many years. But her legacy will live on forever because of the global kindness campaign that she created, BeccaToldMeTo.

For five years, I worked at Sears Canada, and during much of that time I helped lead the Sears Canada Charitable Foundation (SCCF). I am passionate about doing work with purpose. Going to work every day, knowing I was part of a team raising money and awareness for some important causes, was important to me. SCCF had a mission to support the healthy development of Canadian youth, with a specific focus on after-school youth development and childhood cancer.

No parent should ever have to hear the words, your child has cancer. Unfortunately, hundreds of parents hear those words across Canada every year. I was determined, in my role leading SCCF and as a human being, to help those families. We raised money in Sears stores, held local, regional and national fundraising events and volunteered as employees. Fighting childhood cancer was important to me and my colleagues.

One particular foundation, and through it an event we sponsored, was close to my heart. I worked closely with the wonderful people at the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, through our sponsorship of the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride (SNKCR), to raise funds and awareness for the fight against childhood cancer. It was through these wonderful and dedicated people that I learned about Becca.

The National Kids Cancer Ride is an annual massive fundraising event that happens in September – during childhood cancer awareness month. Cyclists dip their wheels in the Pacific Ocean in White Rock, BC, and they ride across Canada, in the end dipping their wheels in the Atlantic Ocean, in Halifax, NS. As they cycle from coast to coast they raise money (over $10 million has raised and donated since 2008) and meet children and families affected by this devastating disease.

I joined this exceptional group of cyclists for parts of NKCR between 2012-2015 (I will admit, waving to them from the RV and not a bicycle!), and over that period of time I met dozens of children and their families who were living with and beyond cancer. I also met many parents whose children were taken from them because of cancer. Each of their stories inspired me.

As I said, I did not meet Becca, who was from a community in New Brunswick. I believe the NKCR cyclists met Becca and her family during the 2017 event, and she made an indelible imprint on their lives. In our Facebook group, 2017 SNKCR and Alumni, cyclists and volunteers posted about Becca often and her incredible movement, BeccaToldMeTo.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you come from or the challenges you face in your life. Becca’s determination to create BeccaToldMeTo reminds me that anyone can do anything if you put your mind to it.

Becca challenged all of us to perform acts of kindness. But she didn’t just ask all of us to be kind, she also told us to share our acts of kindness of social media through the hashtag #BeccaToldMeTo. A person’s age and personal circumstances are irrelevant. Children can help fold the laundry. A teenager can babysit the neighbour’s kids. A young adult can donate a few dollars to a local charity.

Becca inspired all of us to be better people and make the world a better place. Through BeccaToldMeTo she will live on forever. Rest in peace, Rebbeca Schofield, and thank you for being you.

Why They Ride – National Kids Cancer Ride

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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.

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Waiting to cheer on some riders a few years ago with my volunteer buddies in British Columbia