The Healing Power of Storytelling: Ride to Conquer Cancer

In 2016, I attended my first Ride to Conquer Cancer in Toronto. I wasn’t a participant, I was working. In March of that year, I had been hired by The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation as their Manager of Communications and Marketing. Fast forward to 2018, when I will be joining thousands of riders cycling over 200 km, from Toronto to Niagara, in support of vital cancer research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Before I get too far, let me share the defining moments of 2016 that inspired me and gave me the courage to also take on this challenge.

IMG_0195One of the first people I met and chatted with at the 2016 event was Bill. He was 88 years old, riding for the 8th time and, by the way, he was also blind.

Bill had on his gold helmet, a recognition for long-term riders, with a duck on top so he could be easily recognized. Bill started riding, just 16 months after  open heart surgery, after a friend made the suggestion.

Since then his team “The Power of Bill” has raised nearly $500,000. Wow!

The power of Bill’s story has inspired many people. He didn’t let his blindness stop him from challenging himself to help others. He found a solution, riding a tandem bike with a friend leading the way, to make it to the finish line. For those fighting cancer, Bill is a symbol of what you can accomplish against all odds. There is power in that narrative. Bill knows that, so he keeps fundraising for the cause. And he keeps sharing his story.

IMG_0197Then, there are those directly affected by cancer. They share their stories with the thousands of people at The Ride in solidarity. When they cross that finish line, it’s emotional. It’s a challenging journey. It’s also personal. In sharing that moment with others, it can also be life changing. That is why thousands of people return every year to take part in this gruelling journey because 200 km seems small when compared to those who are battling cancer.

This brings me to the now. I have reached my fundraising goal and I will be riding in June. I will be at the start line, hoping I can clip in and out without falling.

I ride with the Shellie Supremes to honour Kenzie Broddy’s mom, Shellie, who battled ovarian cancer and passed away in 2013.