Prepare to lace up your sneakers or hop on your bike because the annual Canadian Cancer Society’s Great Ride N’ Stride event is back in Woolwich.
The biking and running event has been operating in Kitchener-Waterloo, Woolwich and Wilmot for more than 30 years and was started as a grassroots fundraiser for cancer research.
“The idea is that we set up a course that people can ride on their bikes or walk or run and the distance you go depends on how far you’d like to go,” event organizer Sarah Bradshaw said. “It makes it accessible for families with small kids, for seniors, for people who have mobility challenges. It’s quite an inclusive kind of event.”
They always hold it on the last Sunday in April as a wrap up to the April activities of the Cancer Society such as the daffodil sales. Participants raise money through online pledge forms or the traditional door-to-door.
They raised around $9,000 last year and she says they average between $8,000 and $11,000 depending on the turnout and the weather. This year’s monetary goal is to raise $10,000 toward funding the cancer society. Bradshaw’s secondary objective is to help people in the community who are suffering from cancer realize they’re not alone and there is local support.
“My goal is always to raise money to support the Canadian Cancer Society’s objectives and that includes funding research on strategies to treat and detect cancer and also to support services for people with cancer,” Bradshaw said. “The cancer society runs a ride program that takes people to appointments and it can be very helpful.”
And Bradshaw knows the effects of that program first hand as she’s a breast cancer survivor. She first got involved with the cancer society because she wanted to make meaning out of the fact someone close to her had cancer. A couple years later Bradshaw was diagnosed. She went through treatment in 2009 and is now classified as a survivor.
“For me that’s partly why I’ve done it for so long. It’s such a meaningful and personal effort for me,” Bradshaw said.
Participants can choose to do either four, 10, or 20 kilometres. They’ll start at the Woolwich Memorial Centre and follow the Kissing Bridge Trail from Snyder Road. When they get back there will be live music and refreshments.
“Including kids we tend to see between 60 and 90 people, depending on the weather and also you tend to get people out when something is going on in their family or community and they want to show support,” Bradshaw said. “For the past number of years we’ve had a lot of people out supporting Sara Forwell who’s a little girl coming out the other side of cancer treatment. Her family really mobilized around this event the past couple years.”
They also had a lot of children come to the event from St. Teresa of Avila Catholic School last year after Austin Whittom died from cancer.
“The new thing that we do is we always make sure we invite someone to speak who can talk about their own experience with cancer and their journey,” Bradshaw said. “We’ve invited Colton Kuepfer to talk about his experience.”
EDSS Grade 11 student Kuepfer had his leg amputated last year after a rare form of bone cancer was found. He said he’s yet to bike with his prosthetic leg, but running isn’t a problem, which he might do at the event.
“It gives people an opportunity to give back or to show support for people who are less fortunate,” Kuepfer said. “It gives people real life examples. It shows them something like cancer is a terrible thing, but out of it can come very positive results.”
The event kicks off with registration at 12 noon at the WMC on April 26. The opening ceremonies start at 12:45 p.m. and the ride begins at 1 p.m. For more information or to register visit www.greatride.ca.