Losing someone to cancer is (sadly) common. Until a few months ago, I was in complete denial of cancer's impact on my own life and the lives of many of the people around me. Considering 43 people hear the words, "You have cancer.", every day in Alberta, and 1 in 2 people in their lifetime receive a positive diagnosis, it was time to face the facts. It wasn't until I met Delores DeSousa ("Lori"), who lost her battle with this terrible disease, that I came to terms with what cancer truly means to me.
I met Lori the summer of 2015, at a lovely gathering at charbar. Nothing less than a force of nature, I immediately knew I wanted to hear her life stories and share in her endless wisdom! She was a woman of few words, but the ones she shared were always "real', "raw", and completely (in)appropriate for the moment. She made me laugh ... so hard that my my cheeks would cramp up and my sides would ache the next day! She was a protector of things that meant the most to her ... her loving family, dearest friends, memorable experiences ... and FOOD!
When I found out about her diagnosis, I didn't think much of it. Knowing Lori (even for just a few months) I was confident she would be laughing wildly in the face of cancer, telling it to "take a hike", and reminiscing about it at her 80th birthday party. I didn't take it seriously, assumed I would have lots of opportunities to see and spend time with her, became self-absorbed in my own personal drama, and merely observed her valiant journey through images and posts on my Facebook feed. I had many opportunities to see her before she passed away ... but froze every time, not knowing if I had the strength to keep it together. I felt helpless for the first time in my entire life ... paralyzed and unable to do anything to help.
One of my greatest regrets is not being able to "show up" for Lori, or tell her the impact she had on me. It's made me realize how fragile and valuable each day truly is and to tell people what you think and feel (in the moment), especially how much they mean to you ... before it's too late. Fortunately, it also led me to a career in philanthropy ... as the Corporate Development Specialist with the Enbridge® Ride to Conquer Cancer, the largest annual fundraiser benefitting the Alberta Cancer Foundation. In my role, working with thousands of people and raising millions of dollars to KICK CANCER IN THE ASS, I hope I can make it up to Lori, and make her proud.
About the Alberta Cancer Foundation
Cancer is a heartless disease that knows no bias. Regardless of gender, age, race, religion, or cultural background … it doesn't discriminate. The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer has raised over 66 million dollars for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, funding 17 cancer treatment centres in the province, developing and researching more personalized cancer care, and (ultimately) increasing the number of survivors. Their goal is to end cancer in our lifetime. I am passionate about my role with the Ride to Conquer Cancer because I BELIEVE:
- Every father should walk his daughter down the aisle.
- Every mother should live to be a grandmother (and even a great grandmother).
- Every child deserves to live past the age of ten.
THIS IS THE WORLD I WANT TO LIVE IN!
About the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer
The morning of the event, riders stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors, living breathing proof that groundbreaking research and all of the work done at the 17 cancer treatment facilities DOES save lives ... providing patient comforts like blanket warmers for those undergoing chemo therapy, screening programs to detect cancer early, and clinical trials that give cancer patients new hope. On August 11, 2017 (one week after Delores' passing), over 1,400 riders were at the start line celebrating their collective accomplishment of raising over $6.7 million.
What exactly is the ride?
The Ride to Conquer Cancer is a 200 kilometer bike ride that takes place in the beautiful foothills of Alberta, just outside of Calgary. This year marks its 10th Anniversary, which consists of a two-day event held the weekend of August 18 and 19, 2018.
- The ride is designed for all levels of fitness and experience (although the majority of riders have not spent much time on a bike, indoors or out).
- Each rider goes at their own pace (this is a RIDE ... not a race).
- A FREE shuttle bus from Edmonton to (and from) Calgary (stopping in Red Deer) is provided for riders needing transportation.
- Over the two days, riders will travel over 200 kilometers through rural Alberta. Participants are fully supported by bike maintenance crews, medical staff, and vehicle assistance along the route (a.k.a. "Sweep Vehicles") to transport riders.
- Rest stops are planned approximately every 25 kilometers, providing hydration, snacks, shade, lunch, and restrooms.
- At the end of Day One, riders roll into Camp where food and lodging is set up for the evening. Personal belongings are transported to Tent City, where hundreds of tents are set up for the night.
- Camp includes FREE access to hot showers, catered dinner (including beer and wine), massage therapy, yoga classes, and live entertainment.
- On Day Two, riders make their way back to where they started (with a slightly different route) to cross the finish line.
- At the conclusion of Day Two, riders (including friends and family) come together to celebrate their accomplishments together.
- Riders are fully supported by the dedicated team at the Ride to Conquer Cancer office in Calgary (through every step along their journey). This includes information and tools designed to assist with fundraising, training, proper nutrition, or acquiring a bike.
Check out the video below to hear from REAL riders (fundraisers, fighters and survivors) from last year's event. You'll quickly understand what gets me excited every morning ... and the people that inspire my efforts towards this amazing cause!
How Do I Get Started?
If you want to meet me at the start line in August 18th, it begins with a $25 REGISTRATION (but ONLY if you contact me directly at 403.775.4675 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org). If registrations are done online, the investment is $75 per rider. To get to the start line, a minimum of $2,500 in fundraising is required before August 18th. If a participant is unable to complete the fundraising, they are NOT required to pay the remaining balance. They simply are not able to ride, but we would still want them to be involved in the event! Crew members and volunteers are essential to the event. For example, last year we had over 500 volunteers onsite to take care of the 1,400+ Riders.
What Happens After I Register?
When you register you'll get a personal call welcoming you on board, you'll get access to your own personal fundraising page - packed with email templates and badges, and social media add ons so you can let your friends, family and coworkers know what you're setting out to do. In fact, 95% of all fundraising is done through email campaigns and social media. Most people have given their credit card over the phone (or online), so they are already comfortable clicking the link and helping you out. Most importantly, you'll get the help of the Ride to Conquer Cancer Team. The support you receive (to get you "Rider Ready" for August) includes:
- A CUSTOMIZED personal donation page on the Ride to Conquer Cancer website (i.e., Facebook app, RTCC mobile app, downloadable posters and forms, email signature and broadcasting tools, etc.).
- FREE Spin Classes and outdoor open rides.
- FREE educational workshops (i.e., fundraising, training and injury prevention, nutrition, etc.).
- DISCOUNTS from a wide variety of vendors (i.e., bikes, accessories, apparel, bike services, etc.).
- LIVE phone support from members of the Ride to Conquer Cancer Calgary Office.
It's Never Too Late ... To Do Something!
Until six months ago, when I used to think about cancer, I felt completely paralyzed and helpless. Not being a doctor or researcher, I felt useless and unable to make a difference. Working with an organization like the Alberta Cancer Foundation as a part of the Ride to Conquer Cancer, I can DO SOMETHING. I also get a chance to help others DO SOMETHING in the fight against cancer!
If you, or someone you love, has been affected by cancer, you now know about an opportunity to be a part of something significant and life-changing! I hope you will consider joining this year's 10th Anniversary Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer with me!
My goal in 2018 is to help everyone I can get to the Start Line! If you would like to take advantage of the $50 DISCOUNT, give me a call at the Ride to Conquer Cancer office at (403) 7875-4675 or email me at email@example.com.
SEE YOU AT THE START LINE!