Cancer fundraisers something personal for so many

Woolwich Great Ride ‘n’ Stride

While the weather isn’t ideal for hitting the trails right now, organizers are hopeful spring will have sprung in two weeks for the annual Woolwich Great Ride ‘n’ Stride on Apr. 24.

The fundraiser brings people together in communities across Canada to complete a 4 km, 10 km or 20 km course by walking, running, or biking to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Sarah Bradshaw, organizer of the Woolwich event, says they try to always bring in a guest speaker who’s been affected by cancer. Last year EDSS student Colton Kuepfer shared his story about losing part of his leg to bone cancer.

“This year Donna Lenz has agreed to share her experience. She is a retired music teacher from town – she’s just at the tail end of breast cancer treatment and she’s tackled it with a lot of courage and strength. I think she’ll be an interesting person to share her story,” Bradshaw.

They also will be honouring the Inspired by Sara team, organized by Amy Forwell, Sara’s mom, who Bradshaw says has done a tremendous job in raising money over a number of years.

“She gathered her family around to support Sara in her journey with cancer. I remember when they first came out and she was really little. It’s heartbreaking to see that. They really have lots of tenacity, lots of support from the family, fundraising but also just support for the family in terms of helping with the kids. Amy and Sara have been really generous in sharing their time with the Cancer Society at relay events and our event. It’s really nice to see that things are going well for them,” Bradshaw said.

Their fundraising goal is $10,000 this year, which they came close to doing last year. While it might not seem like a lot compared to other big fundraising events she says for this community it is. And any amount will help the Canadian Cancer Society not only fund research, but also the transportation program which helps people with cancer in rural communities get to the hospital for treatment.

“If you ask a group of people how many have you been touched by cancer either personally or as a result of a good friend or a relative battling cancer you will find almost everyone in the room will put up their hand. It’s unfortunately one of those things that really does impact all of us. It’s also though one of the areas of research that is extremely promising. If you think about the death rates especially for breast cancer, it was much higher 25 years ago than it is today. When you can see that progress can be made, it I think really makes it worthwhile,” Bradshaw said.

About 60 people participated last year. They sent out registration forms to previous participants, which she expects will entice them to return again this year.

As in previous years, participants will start at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, travel on Snyder Avenue to the Kissing Bridge Trail and along the trail to either Floradale Road or Side Road 18 at Wallenstein, depending on how far participants want to walk, run or bike.

“Quite honestly what a lot of people like is they know the event, it doesn’t change a lot, they know the route and it’s kind of a touch point again for the community,” Bradshaw said.

Last year’s event saw good weather, which is always helpful, especially if it’s sunny before the event because then the trail will be dry.

The Woolwich Great Ride ‘n’ Stride begins at 1 p.m. on Apr. 24 at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira, with registration opening at 12 p.m. and opening ceremonies starting at 12:45 p.m.

“It’s for all ages and all abilities. We really value people just coming out and joining us for whatever you want to do that day in terms of the biking or the running or the walking. It’s all good,” Bradshaw said.

Registration and pledge forms are available from Sarah Bradshaw at 519-669-2599 or angusquinn@rogers.com, or you can register online at www.greatride.ca.

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