Monday, June 21, 2010

It's working

Patrick Sullivan, captain of Team Finn and father of Finn Sullivan who died in 2008 made a pledge at last years ride that in 2010 he would be back with his team (of then 12) and they would be 100 riders strong. This year, the pink jersey's of Team Finn were 152 riders strong and together they raised over $500,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation. As such an incredible ambassador, Patrick was given the privilege and opportunity to tour hospitals and speak directly with researchers and doctors working to find a cure for cancer. He addressed the crowd at camp Saturday night with one message. It's working.

This years Ride to Conquer Cancer was 2,252 riders large and the funds raised totalled 9.2 million dollars. The clear and constant message is that we're making progress. Every dollar raised goes directly into the fight against cancer and while this road is long, this battle is tough, this task seems overwhelming, this is clear - Cancer. Will. Not. Win.

What an incredible weekend. We couldn't have asked for better weather Saturday. It was a beautiful day in Vancouver and spirits were high at the opening ceremonies. Riding out the start gates and through city blocks of supporters cheering and holding signs that read "Thank You All" it became overwhelming as it was suddenly very clear how much support there was out there. Not just for me obviously, but how many others had stories and reasons of their own for being there. Family and friends, just like mine out to support and do something in the name of those they have loved and maybe lost. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking in the same moment.

This weekend was not just about me and my loss. I wasn't the only one who lost someone this year. My sisters lost their stepmom, my aunt and uncles lost their sister and countless people lost a friend. To keep those people with me and recognize their loss and their support in fighting this fight too, attached to the back of my bike were the ribbons from some of the flower arrangements at Mom's service in January. There was one from my sister's that reads "Grandma Noie" one from her best friend Barb that says "Dearest Friend" and the ribbon from my flowers that says "Mom".

This really was an epic event. While the distances were somewhat daunting and we weren't sure "how fast" we going going to be able to go, we were quickly humbled by the variety of riders we saw. We saw mountain bikes, touring bikes (saddle bags and all), tandem bikes and believe it or not... there was even a unicycle.

Young and old, lean and round, they were all out there. The numbers of "cyclist" in full spandex and sponsor jersey's were far out numbered by average joe/jane who took this on as a challenge. The route was designed specifically for the non-cyclist taking every easy option avoiding large hills and high traffic areas. Scenery and entertainment were paramount on this ride. The pit stops were perfectly distanced apart and each one was stocked with food and water from the first peloton passing through to the last group of ladies and their flashy green wigs creatively fastened to their helmets whom arrived many hours later.

Camp on day 1 was incredibly organized. We arrived, racked our bikes and walked strategically and with great purpose first to the massage tent to book our free 15min rub down, then directly to the beer tent for our complimentary cold beverage. Once we took care of our parched pouters we picked up our bags at the truck we left it with in Vancouver and then over to our pre-assigned and already set up tent. Brilliant. We laid out our sleeping bags and grabbed our shower kits and fresh clothes and headed to the shower trailers. Expecting a soggy, dribble of luke warm (if we were lucky) water we were pleasantly surprised to find luxury mobile shower units complete with enough hot water for all, clean cozy carpeted change rooms and complimentary toiletries from foot scrub to hair gel, q-tips and face cleanser. 5 star all the way.

Day two we were not so lucky with the weather and our hot breakfast was about the only thing we enjoyed warm and dry. As if on que, the rain began as soon as we sat on our bike seats. And rain was what it did - all day. Nonetheless, we made it through. We made it to the finish line together and smiling (ok maybe a little crying). My boyfriend and Kierstie's husband drove down to meet us there and they even surprised us on the route on the side of the road cheering and yelling with support. They lugged our bikes and all our gear back to the cars and drove us home.

Looking back, this was not just another event. This event changes lives. It helps those that need it. It supports those that need a little reminder not to give up fighting, that we are all in this together. 1 in 4 people in Canada will hear the words "you have cancer". Nearly everyone you know will have been touched by this disease be it directly or indirectly, and while I see that the dollars raised go directly to the cause (all riders and even the volunteers have to pay a fee to register to cover the costs of the event) and that we're making difference, the more rewarding difference we are making for me is that we are giving hope. Families are still struggling, people are still fighting and still winning battles every day. Witnessing a mass of people this large, all in it for the same cause generates the feeling of power, inspires hope and gives strength for another day. There is strength in numbers and together, we are making a difference.

Now that its all over, the question is not "would I do it again?" the question is - who's doing it with me in 2011? I've already registered. Anthony has already joined the team and as an incredible surprise on my ride home last night, I found out that two of my amazing, incredible and awesome sisters have registered and created a Powered By Noie team in Ontario for next year.

My goal for 2011 is to have a Powered By Noie team in BC, Ontario and Alberta, each province where Mom lived, loved and had an impact on peoples lives. I want to have at least 10 riders on the BC team and raise a minimum of $25,000. If you want to ride next year, PLEASE join our team, everyone is welcome no matter what your riding experience (Anthony's already signed up and the only bikes he rides are on a mountain and going downhill). If you live in Ontario - register and join Powered By Noie. You don't have to know my sisters... just join the team! Alberta - I'm coming after you next!

Finally, I promised that I would keep all my contributors in mind this weekend and I did. I have only two very simple, but very true and heartfelt words for you. Thank you.

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