TRURO – Chris MacDougall is once again hoping on his bicycle to raise money in support of cancer research.
MacDougall, of Truro, is entering his fifth year in GIVETOLIVE’s Big Ride this fall, with a launch this Saturday in Halifax.
“Before my first Big Ride, I owned a bike but never did much with it,” said MacDougall in a news release issued for the launch. “I waited to the last minute to sign up that year and only started training about three months before we headed out. If people are considering it now, as long as you can ride a bike, you’ve got lots of time to train.”
While some past riders have completed the Big Ride for the adventure and exercise, others, like MacDougall, have family connections to cancer.
His son Charlie died almost 10 years ago at the age of 14 from bone cancer. He recently lost a brother to cancer, has a sister who is a four-time melanoma survivour, another brother who is a prostate cancer survivor and his Dad is currently being treated for cancer.
“People ask me if I think we’re making a difference. I tell them Charlie had the same cancer as Terry Fox. When Terry had it, he only had 30 per cent chance of beating it and when Charlie got it 20 years later, that number had risen to 70 per cent so there have been great advances thanks to research,” he said.
“Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the equation.”
This is the first year the Big Ride is heading east. The event this year, according to the release, has been shortened to make it more accommodating to people’s work schedules. The ride will begin on Parliament Hill on Sept. 19, with teams of five or six riders making their way through Ontario, New England and the Atlantic Coast to reach Citadel Hill on Sept. 27.
The launch on Saturday in Halifax will include a bike ride along the Herring Cove Road loop, with a breakfast to follow. Everyone is welcome to participate in Saturday’s bike ride, as well as an information session at 9 a.m. at The Armview Restaurant and Lounge on Chebucto Road.
The fall event has a goal of 30 riders and those interested in participating in the eight-day adventure can attend the kick off on Saturday.
“The trips are a lot of fun,” said MacDougall. “We have a great time and meet and ride with people we’ve never met before. It’s a great challenge but nothing to be intimated about – we only go as fast as the slowest rider.”
The Big Ride is now in its seventh year and has attracted more than 400 riders, covered more than 200,000 kilometres and raised more than $1.5 million. Funds raised this year will help support a research project to prevent cancer through exercise, conducted by Dr. Ryan Rhodes.
Through the Canadian Cancer Society, GIVETOLIVE has committed to raising $300,000 for this research from 2013-2015. Each rider is to raise at least $4,000.
“GIVETOLIVE is all about challenging yourself to do big things, for great causes,” said Todd MacDonald, co-founder of GIVETOLIVE and seven-time Big Ride participant. “We’re not looking for elite athletes, we’re just looking for a good group of people to go biking with for a good cause.”
Registration fee for the Big Ride is $200 and includes an event jersey, Big Ride medal, RV accommodations during the ride and a finish line event in Halifax. Visit www.givetolive.ca for more information or to register.