The first day of a trans-Canada ride to fight childhood cancer saw two dozen cyclists arrive in the Langleys along with a police escort and several support vehicles Wednesday morning.
The participants in the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride will cover 7,000 kilometres before they arrive in Halifax on Sept. 24.
Two B.C. residents were among the riders.
Abbotsford resident Bob Ahuja (picture below) was spending a couple of days as a relay rider.
Ahuja, who has ridden in several cancer fundraisers, said he is motivated by the memory of a cousin he lost to cancer at the age of 14.
“It hurts still,” Ahuja said, “but every time I’m on the bike, all I’m focussing on is how to help other kids.”
Kelowna resident Kari Primak, who will go all the way to Halifax, said she was riding in part to honour Eli Mutch, the son of an associate in her chiropractic office, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2010 at four months of age.
Five years later, Eli is cancer free, Primak said.
“I just want to make sure that if families out there have to deal with this, they have a future like Eli’s,” Primak said.
Ride co-founder Jeff Rushton was cycling the whole distance with his daughter, Brooklyn.
“Usually I come here, I ride a little bit … and then I get on a plane and go to the next city or go back to my office,” Rushton said.
“Its a very, very special year for me to be riding with the team and to be riding with my daughter.”
The riders were served breakfast, received an official welcome from Langley City mayor Ted Schaffer and acting Township mayor Charlie Fox and accepted $26,000 in donations before resuming their journey.
The ride raised more than $1 million last year, part of the $4.7 million raised by the Coast To Coast Against Cancer foundation, which promises 100 per cent of receipted donations will be “invested in improving the survival rate and quality of life of children and their families impacted by cancer.”
The foundation distributed funds to more than 50 childhood cancer organizations in Canada in 20156, including the B.C. Children’s Hospital foundation, the British Columbia Childhood Cancer Parents Association in Vancouver and Victoria and the Canadian Cancer Society – BC and Yukon chapter.