For more than three decades, cyclists, walkers and runners have been raising money for cancer research with the Great Ride n’ Stride through the Canadian Cancer Society. This year’s event has a goal of $15,000, and takes place on Apr. 30.
Sarah Bradshaw, a breast cancer survivor, is on the local organizing committee. She says the event hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years, but improvements haven’t been needed. Families have been participating in the Great Ride n’ Stride as the years go on.
“You know, it is interesting, we’ve had it in different communities, and I would say that there was a strong presence in New Hamburg for a bit, but that strength has moved into the KW area,” she said. “Elmira is a solid event for us, but a lot about it hasn’t really changed and I think that has been interesting for families. Some of our original participants have grown up and brought in the next generation to join in.”
The event is suited for everyone of any age and physical fitness level. The idea is to raise awareness and funds for cancer research, not race to the finish line. Registration starts at noon and participants hit the road at 1 p.m.
“It starts out at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, then people go down to the Kissing Bridge Trail, and then they can go towards Floradale and then they get to decide how far they want to go. You can go to Floradale, you can go to Wallenstein, they can decide if they are walking, riding a bike, bringing the dog, pushing a stroller. Then people can turn around when they need to, and typically about 2 p.m. we have people coming back,” she said.
Bradshaw has seen the results of increased research into cancer treatments firsthand.
“One of the things that I always refer to is how incredibly well we have done in tackling some of the major cancers. There has been so much money put into research and we have seen some really great results. Mortality rates have really dropped since the 1960s,” she said.“You have people like me, who had fairly advanced breast cancer, and my survival has totally been based on the fact that there has been research done on breast cancers that has really helped to make treatment much more effective.”
There is still some work to be done, however.
“There are always sad stories, and unfortunately, there will continue to be, but I think that you can see the progress. That I think is very hopeful for people.”
Organizers have upped their fundraising goals after seeing a huge turnout last year.
“Last year, we hit about $14,000, so I said to the committee, ‘let’s top that.’ We are going for $15,000 this year. It really just depends on the people who come out,” said Bradshaw. “Last year, we had a couple of groups that rallied around specific people and they really did well. They almost egged each other on, which was kind of neat. People respond to that.”
The event will be running rain or shine on Apr. 30, and Bradshaw encourages anyone and everyone to come support cancer research.
“Just come out and do what you can, and raise what you can. Every bit helps. It all goes towards a good cause. I think people feel that if they can’t raise $500, then what’s the point? But, even that $10 makes a difference in how much research we can fund, how many rides we can offer, that kind of thing,” she said.