Around 1,400 people hopped on bikes and hit the highway for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer early Saturday morning.
The riders travel 200 kilometers from Calgary through Bragg Creek, Priddis and Black Diamond before stopping for the night in Okotoks.
The eighth annual Ride to Conquer Cancer is a two-day event that raises funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
Participants had to raise $2,500 each to take part in the event.
Todd Kemper’s team raised $69,000. His wife is battling terminal cancer.
“This past Christmas all the hope disappeared for me. We knew that the disease would take her life,” Kemper said to the crowd at the opening ceremonies at Canada Olympic Park.
Frank Symons is part of ‘Jarrid’s Team’. He has been riding in the event for seven-years in memory of his godson Jarrid Rich, who passed away from cancer at the age of 28.
“It’s devastating for his family,” Symons said. “You lose somebody so young who has two kids. It’s really sad but everybody comes to this event and we get some resilience from it and get some good feelings about it and some good memories.”
Jimi Brockett has completed fifteen of the grueling rides since the event started in 2009. That is when his five-year-old son Ryder died from cancer.
“There’s nobody who can help you, there’s nothing that can explain what it’s like, what goes through your mind. It’s a devastating moment and you have a choice, especially when your little one passes away. You can stand up and fight or sit down and quit,” Brockett said.
“I can ride a bike. I can’t be a doctor or a researcher but I can raise money to keep those guys in the lab, so we can fund research that’s going to find a cure for all cancers,” Brockett said.
All of the proceeds from the ride go to the Alberta Cancer Foundation for research, clinical trials, enhanced care and new therapies at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and 15 other centres across Alberta.
Every day in Alberta 43 people are diagnosed with cancer.
“That’s not a statistic. It’s our family, it’s our friends, it’s our colleagues and it makes this kind of an event so important,” Myka Osinchuk, CEO of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, said.
The 1,402 riders helped raised $6.35 million this year.