It’s a big commitment biking across Canada but worth every mile when you’re doing it for an initiative you’re passionate about said Eric Lindenberg.
He and Damon Allen are two local cyclists traveling with 22 others from Vancouver to Nova Scotia on a mission to find a cure for childhood cancers.
The Sears National Kids Cancer Ride participants wheeled into Belleville Monday where they were welcomed by a sea of high fives and cheers of a job already well done. Each rider raises $25,000 with 100% of the funds going to childhood cancer research initiatives. Since its inception, the Coast to Coast Foundation has distributed almost $45 million.
Each day the ride is dedicated to a young person whose life has tragically been taken by cancer.
Monday’s ride was dedicated to a young boy who galvanized the local community and for many years could be seen laughing and cheering on the riders as they pulled in.
“The tipping point for me to get involved was when Thomas Martin was diagnosed with brain cancer,” said Lindenberg who is a close friend of the family. “This is something I can do. It’s going to be tough but it is well worth it. I am so pleased to be a part of this organization. We travel from province to province. We go through big towns and small towns. The outpouring of generosity, the emotional highs and the emotional lows that we experience on a daily basis are unbelievable.”
Martin’s parents Robert Martin and Charlene McIntee were also in attendance, praising Lindenberg and the riders.
“Thomas was here last year,” McIntee said smiling through tears looking down at a poster illustrating her 11 year-old son as a super hero. “I miss him so much. It’s hard but he is bigger than life and he would want me to be happy and be here for him. I am very thankful for everything that the riders do for childhood cancer. Riding across Canada is awesome because childhood cancer is very underfunded we get three percent of research funds which isn’t enough to keep our children alive. We want everyone to recognize September is childhood cancer month. Awareness doesn’t cost any money, it really doesn’t, and that all we want everyone to be aware of is that children get cancer too.”
Enjoying a hamburger in the shade and watching the riders with a big smile sat 7-year-old Marlow Ploughman. Her mom Tanya Boehm agreed awareness is key as little Marlow has been battling stage four Rhabdomyosarcoma since she was just two-years-old.
“It’s come back five times,” Boehm breathed heavily.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling when you’re sitting here with her and even though you don’t know anyone, when you see their reactions when they see Marlow and some of the other kids, I think inside them they must feel pretty good about what they’re doing helping all the kids,” she said hugging her daughter. “It’s pretty important to the parents because as much as the gift for the kids to go to Camp Oochigeas and Camp Trillium it’s really important for the parents too. We are very thankful and it’s very close to our heart.”
Three local kids taking part in the ride through the Sears entrance were siblings Brooklyn, Hunter and Aidyn Sinclair who proudly said they were cycling for Thomas.
“I think it’s good for them to get involved in stuff like this and realize the littlest bit can make a difference,” said their mom Kristy Sinclair.
This was the first year Jeff Rushton, the co-founder of the Coast to Coast foundation took part in ride and he’s seeing first hand how much of a difference is being made. He has been riding across the country with his 20-year-old daughter Brooklyn. On the front of her bike is a teddy bear once belonging to local teen Katie Wilson who lost a lengthy battle with Osteosarcoma. Her mom Evelyn was also in attendance wearing a pin with her daughter’s picture.
“Everywhere you go there is this incredible connection,” said Rushton. “The ride isn’t the hard part, it’s the emotional connection that’s the hard part.”
He said he projects $12.5 million to be raised through this ride.
“There is big progress being made,” he said. “In a tiny community in Saskatchewan we had a family come up to us and hugged us and said ‘thank you’ because one of the clinical trials that we funded was used on their child and they survived.”
“While we are making progress there is still a long way to go,” he said pointing to his shirt that said ‘A destination beyond cancer.’
“And we are not stopping until that happens.”
For more information or to donate visit http://searsnationalkidscancerride.com/