After 38-year-old Langley City resident Crystal Wilson lost her father, Bruce, to prostate cancer in 2017 – a chance viewing of a Ride to Conquer Cancer advertisement changed everything.
“It took a few months to really process it all, but then this commercial came on about the ride and he was an avid cyclist,” Wilson remembered. “I thought this would be the perfect way to honor him.”
With a goal set to raise $10,000 and three to five days spent training for the grueling cycle, Wilson stepped up to fight back against the disease that took her dad.
Since the ride was founded a little more than a decade ago, it has raised $96 million for the BC Cancer Foundation, supporting more than 47 projects that investigate more than 50 different cancer types.
Different routes for the two-day ride happen all across the country including in Quebec, Alberta, and the one taking place over the weekend, Aug. 24 and 25 in B.C. from Cloverdale to Hope.
The 200 km journey snakes through southern roads in the Langley Township along the U.S. border, up through Aldergrove and Abbotsford, and then to an overnight camp out in Chilliwack’s Heritage Park.
Wilson travelled that route on her bike alongside 2500 other riders last year, surpassing her fundraising goal but contending with pouring nearly the entire weekend.
“It was quite daunting,” Wilson said. “And last year was extremely emotional, I had just lost him eight months prior by I was listening to songs by his favorite band, Supertramp, and my friends and family were at the finish line with signs and bells and yelling…. The person I wanted the most to be there wasn’t… but… it was hard to put into words what I experienced.”
Wilson said despite the rain, it was a beautiful scenic ride to take part in, while the common goal of beating cancer gave the journey a hopeful and connective feeling.
“I can’t believe the stories that are so similar and the yellow flags that some were wearing symbolized that they were a survivor or currently were fighting cancer – it was remarkable,” she explained.
This year’s ride will kick off from the Cloverdale Fairgrounds at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24. Riders will travel more than 100 km on the first day to Chilliwack, and then complete another 100 km to the finish line on Sunday at the Hope & District Recreation Centre.
“I’m prepared for anything this year,” Wilson assured, returning for another strenuous weekend and keeping the faith for blue skies.
Half way to her fundraising goal, Wilson belongs to the Riders for Ryders team and said as long as she is physically able to do so, she will participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
“Riding isn’t easy and asking for money isn’t easy but that’s all the more reason to do it every year,” Wison said.
The Ride to Conquer Cancer started in 2008 in an effort to support cancer research and patient care with those statistics in mind, and since then has become the nation’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising event. In 2018 alone, riders raised more than $10.6 million.
To donate or find out more about the ride, people can visit www.conquercancer.ca.
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