Ride and fight

Ride and fight

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Mina Atia
Communications Coordinator

One in two Atlantic Canadians are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Among over 200 different types of cancer, two tumors or diagnoses are rarely ever the same. At the QEII Health Sciences Centre, identifying the most targeted and effective treatments for cancer patients is a top priority.

In effort to raise awareness and funds to support cancer research, Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal was introduced in 2015. The home-grown event, solely managed and operated by the team at the QEII Foundation, is the largest cycling fundraiser in Atlantic Canada.

“The key to this event’s success is the incredible community support behind it,” says Dianne MacDonald, Development Manager, Special Events & Partnerships, QEII Foundation and Event Manager, Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal.

“Cancer rates are continuing to rise and there will always be a need to raise critical funds to ensure we have the best treatment options for all Atlantic Canadians.”

Ride has grown over six hundred per cent in capacity in the past six years, and it’s now annually raising ten times the amount it raised in its inaugural year. The Ride community has raised over $4.08 million to transform cancer care at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

Delivering world-class care to address some of the country’s highest cancer rates, the QEII Health Sciences Centre is the largest specialized cancer care centre for Atlantic Canadians.

“Ride for Cancer is a catalyst behind funding new cancer fighting technology and equipment at the QEII, ensuring Nova Scotians have access to the best treatment options available right here at home,” says Margaret Chapman, Ride for Cancer Chair. “For patients and families in Nova Scotia, this means more time at home focusing on what matters most.”

Ride for Cancer has quickly become Atlantic Canada’s premiere fundraising event. While most events have a shelf life, Ride continues to grow year over year with no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.

Contributed: QEII Foundation

“Ride for Cancer is a catalyst behind funding new cancer fighting technology and equipment at the QEII, ensuring Nova Scotians have access to the best treatment options available right here at home,” says Margaret Chapman, Ride for Cancer Chair. “For patients and families in Nova Scotia, this means more time at home focusing on what matters most.”

“In 2020, we had a record-breaking year and surpassed our 1-million-dollar goal, raising over $1.3 million to bring breast seed brachytherapy to the QEII,” says Chapman. “And what makes Ride so unique is that all funds raised by the event stay right here in Nova Scotia to transform local cancer care.”

A former and stand-out Ride for Cancer fundraiser, Jody Crane took his love for cycling to literal new heights on his already booked trip to Hawaii. The US island’s Mauna Kea Volcano is not only the world’s tallest mountain but is also considered the most extreme cycling climb.

“The climb is 68.4 kilometres and goes from sea level to approximately 13,800 feet,” says Crane, Dalhousie University employee and small-business owner of Brooklyn Audio Inc. “I was on this challenge regardless, so why not support a good cause at the same time?”

Ride for Cancer offers a virtual Ride option for anyone dedicated to the fight against cancer and participating solely as a fundraiser. For Crane, this was a fantastic alternative since his Hawaii trip overlapped with event day.

“I got creative when it came to my fundraising,” says Crane. “I started with the simple asks within my personal network of friends and family members, but then moved to my business network.”

“I started emailing customers I’ve worked with over the years, and from there I emailed distributors I work closely with and also my connections at Dalhousie.”

Contributed: QEII Foundation

In addition to reaching out to his network, Crane also had small auctions on donated items, sold chocolate bars and even used an old deck of cards to his advantage. “I had a deck of cards and if you purchased a card, I ripped it in two and threw one half into a hat,” he says. “Once all the cards were purchased, I drew for a 50/50 winner.”

Riding even further, Crane reached out to different companies he worked with and asked the storage company he was renting from at the time for support. “I was advertising my side business with a website company and asked when I advertise with them next, if they would give me $150 off my cost and donate that towards Ride for Cancer,” he says. “And I asked if I could take my rent and donate it to the event on behalf of the company.”

Besides being Ride for Cancer’s top virtual fundraiser, Crane was also one of the 2017 event’s top overall fundraisers, raising a record-breaking $13,255. It’s a great testament to his efforts, dedication, and unparalleled commitment to help support the fight against cancer.

“This year marks our seventh event, and we already have big things planned for next year!” says Chapman.

In 2021, Ride for Cancer is leading the charge to introduce new cancer-fighting genetic sequencing technology at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada. They’re already on track to raise over $1.5 million to bring this new state-of-the-art technology home.

“Better outcomes, fewer side effects, access to a new therapy or clinical trial are all benefits this technology brings to cancer patients here in the Maritimes,” says Chapman. “It can even spare patients from unnecessary treatments, and it’s a game-changer for those patients facing late-stage cancers.”

Due to the pandemic, Ride for Cancer established a new event structure and COVID-19 safety protocols last year. Riders, volunteers, and spectators came together on Ride Day in person. The health and safety of Riders and the community were the event organizers’ top priority.

“We were one of the only events in Canada to be able to execute a stellar and safe event day experience in person last year amid a global pandemic,” says Chapman. “And because of the trust and confidence we built in our Ride community, we had record-breaking registration in 2021, and sold the event out five months prior to event day.

Contributed: QEII Foundation

The safe and successful 2020 event was executed through a staggered start format to keep event grounds capacity low. A COVID-19 pre-screening process, increased sanitization stations, encouraged mask wearing and social distancing protocols all contributed to the event’s seamless transition and success. The event’s adaptation will continue to comply with current Provincial Government protocols, abiding by any restrictions that will be in place at the next event.

“This year it will be like last year, but we are hoping to be able to reintroduce our finish line celebration festival, where our participants will be able to gather and celebrate after accomplishing the extraordinary,” says MacDonald. “Our Riders deserve it!”

On October 2, 2021, over 1,300 riders, including veteran cyclists, recreational and rookie riders, will ride their choice of distance options via the Rum Runners Trail or by the road along the picturesque South Shore of Nova Scotia.

Businesses can support riders or teams by making a donation to support their Ride. “We have unique sponsorship activation opportunities that will position businesses as leaders in transforming cancer care in our community,” says Chapman. “This event also wouldn’t be possible without the amazing volunteers behind the scenes bringing the magic to life on event day.”

The foundation is recruiting over 200 volunteers for the Volunteer Crew and asking businesses to come forward in helping deliver another rewarding event experience on October 2.

“Our goal is to deliver a safe and epic event experience for our Ride community in 2021,” says MacDonald. “The #WeRideAgain event in 2021 will be in person, rain or shine. And together, we will face the fight against cancer as one united front.”

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