A tradition for more than three decades, the annual Great Ride n’ Stride will see cyclists, runners and walkers going the distance to raise money for cancer research.
The fundraiser brings together local community members for a good cause, where participants have the option of running a 4 km, 10 km or 20 km course starting at the WMC in Elmira. All the proceeds go to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Last year, the Great Ride n’ Stride raised $12,200, with a goal of $15,000 this time around. Organizer Sarah Bradshaw said it’s an excellent way to contribute to a cause that is personal to so many people.
“I would say that sometimes when you have a loved one diagnosed with cancer, in your family or your community, you feel sort of powerless,” said Bradshaw. “You feel like you can’t do anything to impact the course of that person’s journey. So one of the things that I really want people to understand is that they can have an impact.”
The event has raised a total of over $300,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society in its 30-plus years. While it has been hosted in other areas in the past, Woolwich is the only township in Waterloo Region to continue with the Great Ride n’ Stride.
“I think it’s a real tribute to our community that there’s still support for it,” said Bradshaw. Additional event locations include Norwich, Blandford-Blenheim, Tillsonburg and Burlington.
Ayr resident Jennifer James, a colleague of Bradshaw’s, is this year’s featured survivor speaker. She will share her reflections and journey fighting cancer at the beginning of the event. Bradshaw noted it’s essential for people to hear from survivors, to know that there is still hope even with a cancer diagnosis.
“She’s terrific. Her approach has been very fierce,” said Bradshaw. “She has a horse and loves horseback riding; she participates in all sorts of fundraising activities for the Cancer Society like the warrior challenge down in Brantford. She travels, she has a son, goes to his hockey games and supports him. She’s just very engaged in life and living.”
The event is suited for all ages and fitness levels. It generally sees some 60-80 participants come out, usually opting to travel by bike. The course begins at the WMC, then onto Snyder Avenue to the Kissing Bridge Trail. It continues onto Floradale Road or Side Road 18 at Wallenstein, depending on how far participants wish to travel.
Once a participant gets tired or finishes the chosen distance, they can turn around and come back. Bradshaw said the event has remained relatively the same throughout the decades, with a few minor changes.
“For the last ten years we’ve been leveraging the Kissing Bridge Trail,” said Bradshaw. “We’ve also had great support from the Woolwich Memorial Centre. They allow us to run the event out of that facility free of charge.”
Refreshments are also offered at the event. The Great Ride n’ Stride will take place a little bit later than usual this year on May 5.
“The WMC is booked on the day we usually hold it, the last Sunday in April,” said Bradshaw. “We didn’t want to change locations – we love being able to do it out of the WMC – so we agreed to push the day back by a week.”
Registration begins at noon, warm-up and ceremonies are set for 12:45 p.m., and the start time is at 1 p.m.
“We think our community still has a role to play in fighting cancer and we’d just like to see as many people out as can spare the time.”