As some cyclists fundraise and pump up their tires for their first Ride to Conquer Cancer, Luc Begin of Nanaimo is driving donations for his eighth ride since 2010.
The Ride to Conquer Cancer is an annual cycling event in which participating riders raise money for B.C. Cancer Foundation research and programs. The course follows a 200-kilometre route from Vancouver to Seattle and, in terms of numbers of participants and donations raised, is B.C.’s largest cycling fundraiser. Ride to Conquer Cancer events are hosted annually to support cancer foundations in several provinces across Canada.
Begin, 62, a math and science teacher at Nanaimo District Secondary School, saddled up for his first ride in 2010 with fellow riders Frederick Robinson and Ian Drown.
Begin has since done five rides to conquer cancer and between training, regular riding and fundraising – the school stages annual stationary fundraising rides – he has clocked about 20,000 kilometres. With his team, NDSS students and their families, he has helped raise about $240,000 in donations.
People from all walks of life, including cancer survivors and family members, friends and loved ones touched by cancer, whose riding skill levels range from beginner to expert, join the ride each year.
In 2015, nearly 2,100 participants raised $8.4 million. To date the B.C. ride has raised more than $70 million.
Participating cyclists have their reasons for participating. Begin’s mother was diagnosed with cancer in 1955.
“She was diagnosed with a tumour while she was pregnant with me,” Begin said. “As soon as she delivered, maybe a few weeks later, she got her strength back and she went for surgery.”
She underwent 14 cancer-related operations and chemotherapy.
“She just turned 89 on June 2,” Begin said.
His father, though, was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1976 and succumbed to the disease in 1986.
Begin isn’t riding this year because of a family obligation, but has spent the last few months drumming up donations and he derives satisfaction from knowing the money raised can have positive impacts on people’s lives.
“Just knowing you’re making a difference, because they need so much money in research, and knowing how far they’ve come in curing different forms of cancer,” Begin said. “With both my parents having had cancer I’m a little more at risk than the general population, so I have to think about that too. I have grandkids too, so I want to make sure that they get a fair chance if they’re ever diagnosed.”
Total money raised and final participant numbers for this year’s event will be announced at the 2016 ride opening ceremonies in Vancouver Aug. 27.