National bike ride raises cash for children battling cancer

When Thomas Gemma says he’s going to grab a cup of coffee, he means getting on his bike and cycling to Parksville for coffee.

When Thomas Gemma says he’s going to grab a cup of coffee, he means getting on his bike and cycling to Parksville for coffee.

It’s part of the training regime the 50-year-old is on for the upcoming Sears National Kids for Cancer Ride.

With a  dip of his bike’s tires in the Pacific Ocean at White Rock Wednesday (Sept. 7), Gemma joins 19 solo riders and 38 relay riders raising money and awareness for childhood cancer.

Gemma, Nanaimo’s Sears store manager, is part of the ride’s relay team and is making the trek from Vancouver to Calgary.

His training includes cycling up to 40 kilometres a day, five days-a-week and longer rides up to 100 km on the weekends.

His goal is to raise $8,000 and he is closing in on the $5,000 mark.

To make a donation to help Gemma reach his fundraising goal, or for more information on the ride, please go to http://thom asgemma.snkcr.com or www.searsnationalkidscancerride.com.

“My team at Sears has been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “They’ve held book sales, bake sales, popcorn sales, barbecues and beer and burger nights.”

Gemma’s daughter was born premature, an experience that brought into focus the battle parents face when their child is gravely ill.

“There are so many kids missing out on their childhood because of cancer,” said Gemma. “If you’re five, six or seven years old  and are undergoing cancer treatment for a year or two, that’s a huge part of your childhood.”

The 16-day, 7,000-kilometre ride winds up in Halifax Sept. 23 with B.C. Children’s Hospital receiving a share of the proceeds.