Spirit of Giving

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We will beat cancer. We will be strong like you.

Jenn Allaert, rider in the Sears National Kids Cancer RideThe Sears National Kids Cancer Ride is one of the biggest and most ambitious charity cycling events on behalf of childhood cancer in the world. Jenn Allaert from Moncton, New Brunswick, shares why she’s riding across Canada to improve the quality of life for children, and their families, living with and beyond cancer.

20 years ago I watched my mom getting sick. No one knew why and answers were hard to come by. A year later her brain tumor was remove a month to the day after my 16th birthday. The relief was brief, 3 months later my Nona was diagnosed with brain cancer. The out come not in our favour this time, her presence left us 4 months later. Life was definitely not fun that year…it was far from a sweet 16.

Now that I’m a mom I know what the meaning of giving everything for you kids is. A fighting chance to be a kid. I will fight for them and fight for all the kids. I now have the reason I’m riding with me forever…it will never be forgotten.

My life changed when I was asked to be the massage therapist of the 2008 & 2009 SNKCR riders. I really had no idea how much that experience would have on my life or even the big realization of why I was doing it. I strongly believe that this is bigger than me; it’s something I have to do. I do it because I can, because I have 3 beautiful children and I can’t image my life without them. I can’t image waking up one day and someone telling me that my kids have caner. These are the words no parent should ever have to hear.

Many of my adult family members have lost their battle with cancer. It was so hard to watch their changes in health from all the countless treatments. And within my massage practice I see the emotional and physical impact cancer has on it’s survivors and think that no child should ever have to experience that. All children need to have positive touch experiences in their life and none should come from countless needle pokes and invasive treatments.

Everyday I carry the words I heard form a little girl with cancer “Mommy don’t be sad, it’s not that bad I only have cancer.” It was so heartbreaking to hear these words because the children with cancer are living adult lives…not the life of a child

So here is to all the kids out there. We will beat cancer. We will be strong like you. And you’re never alone; we’re with you until the end. You’re forever in my heart!!!


That’s why I’m riding.

Dr. Crooks is a Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist at the IWK Health Centre. This year he will be riding across Canada for the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride – one of the biggest and most ambitious charity cycling events on behalf of childhood cancer in the world.

There are so many reasons for challenging myself for doing this. But I think the impetus has to come from a wonderful young patient.

Dr. Bruce Crooks

Dr. Bruce Crooks

Years ago, I admitted and looked after her when she was diagnosed with, and started treatment for, Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia – the commonest childhood cancer. Even then she didn’t complain, but met the challenge head on and did what she had to do. Years later, and after a somewhat rocky road, she’s finishing her studies at university and is one of the strongest, most positive and assertive role models I’ve ever met. She took the cloud that’s leukemia, ripped it apart and kept the silver lining. That taught her so many life lessons at such an early age. Last year, she stood beside me as we welcomed the 2012 National Kids Cancer Ride to Halifax and said, “So how about doing this with me next year, Crooksy?” At that point how could I say no? And here I am.

I’m originally from the UK. When I first arrived in Canada I was immediately struck by just how BIG this country is compared with Europe. Distances are measured in hours and days, not miles or kilometres. There’s a huge amount of wilderness here – lakes and rocks and trees. Oh, and bears (one of my soft spots). So it’s hardly surprising that one of my dreams was to cross the continent – on foot!!! But here’s an opportunity to do it a different way and to do something amazing with that opportunity – something that’s very dear to my heart.

Professionally, I knew I wanted to work with kids during medical school and during my first part of postgraduate training, became fascinated with cancer and cancer therapy.   In my opinion, fun, humour and clowning around is a part of the healing process – childhood is a time of laughter, exploration and discovery. Why take away a child’s innocence and childhood just because they are dealing with some crummy disease and rotten treatments. If they love coming to see me, that makes everything so much better. And I’m not afraid to put my money where my mouth is and do something like a charity head shave, or event! Why not? It’s part of the rich tapestry of life.

Dr. Crooks will be cycling across Canada to raise money for childhood oncology programs.

Dr. Crooks will be cycling across Canada to raise money for childhood oncology programs.

I see both sides of the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation: We all participate in the fundraising, and the events and the struggle to raise the money that is so desperately needed. And as a Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, I see where that money is widely spent – to improve the quality of life and care for our kids and families, to plough into medical research to devise better treatments, but also to learn where cancers come from – after all, prevention is better than a cure.

As I said to a mother not too long ago as she had just been told her child had leukemia, “This must seem to be the worst day of your life, but I’m here to try and make it better for you.”

I wish I never have to say those words again. That’s why I’m riding.

Learn more about the Sears National Kids Cancer ride.
Support Dr. Cooks on his ride across Canada.

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Raising funds for pediatric cancer

Trevor Morrissey, a Critical Care Flight Paramedic with Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia, is a national rider for the National Sears Cancer Ride, one of the biggest and most ambitious charity cycling events on behalf of childhood cancer in the world.

Trevor Morrissey at the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride

Hello my name is Trevor Morrissey.  I am national rider with the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride.  We are raising funds for pediatric cancer. We will be cycling for 17 days approximately 150 km’s a day from Vancouver to Halifax.  I got involved with this ride because my partner (Lesleigh Abbott) is a physician that is training to treat kids with cancer.  Everyday I hear her talking about different kids, some of the stories are very happy and some not so happy.  We both decided to commit to doing something together that will help the kids.  We are looking for your support to raise $25,000 each.  The great thing that this ride prides itself on the fact that 100% of the donations raised go right back to help the kids.  The IWK also benefits from the money we raise to help support oncology programs.

The National Sears Cancer Ride takes place from September 5th to September 21st.

Support Trevor as he rides from Vancouver to Halifax to raise funds for research and support programs for kids cancer.

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A Destination Beyond Cancer.

Hannah MacKenzie is an IWK Patient, Childhood Cancer Survivor and Coast to Coast Ambassador.  Hannah was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and received 16 months of treatment.  Today she is cancer free.

Hannah MacKenzie, Sears National Kids Cancer Ride 2010

I first learnt about the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation when I was asked to speak at the finish line of the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride two years ago. My first impression of Coast to Coast was simply amazement. Cyclists from all across Canada were riding for me, for children they didn’t even know.  I was so touched by all of these people that I jumped at the chance to speak for them again the following year.

About six months after the National Ride in September I received an email about another Coast to Coast ride that was being held right here in Atlantic Canada. The first ever! I was thrilled when the foundation asked me if I would like to attend the Tour for Kids on the Cabot Trail. This being the first Atlantic ride, there were fewer riders than usual, and even fewer volunteers. However, because there were so few of us, we all became a family. A family that all had the same dream – a destination beyond cancer.

That weekend on the Cabot Trail was one of the most inspiring weekends of my life. Coast to Coast gives 100% of the proceeds raised to both childhood cancer research and also organisations that help children with cancer, including the IWK. These riders are more than just riders, they are heroes! What they do on that bike is give children hope, they let them know that they aren’t alone in what they are going through. Someone is there for them, through the whole journey and their journey beyond cancer.

The ride isn’t like any other event I have ever experienced. It touches you in so many ways and shows you that no matter how small, every contribution towards the cause will make a difference.  Cancer doesn’t have to be seen as a negative thing. Greater things can come from this minor setback. You just have to keep moving forward.

Sears National Kids Cancer Ride
The biggest charity cycling event in the world on behalf of children with cancer. Starting on Canada’s west coast, and finishing on Canada’s east coast, the event is an epic journey of over 7,000 km. National cyclists bike from coast to coast along a well-planned route, joined by thousands of local community cyclists for shorter regional and local rides. The route visits most of Canada’s 17 pediatric cancer centres the event supports through its fundraising efforts (including the IWK Health Centre). The event has raised more than $2.5 million in the last two years.

National Inside Ride Tour
This September, 2011, we’ll be taking the Inside Ride on Tour! We’ll be travelling across Canada to raise funds and awareness for local children’s cancer charities. We’re bringing a fantastic team-building, fundraising event to key childhood cancer partners across Canada to help them engage their communities. Teams of 6 cyclists register to spin at a comfortable pace and compete for Spirit, Fundraising, Costume, and Mileage medals. We deliver fun, musical, professionally run events that define the word ‘meaningful’. Support the IWK and get involved in the Halifax event today!

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Coast to Coast and into our hearts.

Suzanne Delaney, National Rider, Antigonish, NS

Our bicycles heroes will be pulling into view on Thursday – the 43 riders who have completed a marathon relay from Vancouver to Halifax in the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride that began Sept 9

In addition to a community event at Sears, the riders will be coming to the IWK Health Centre Gallery for an event at 1 p.m. and to thank the local fundraisers who are doing an “Inside Ride” at the Health Centre to also raise funds for childhood cancer.  Come down to the gallery at 12:30 p.m. to cheer on the relay teams, and then stay to greet the intrepid cyclists. Especially our heroine, educator Suzanne Delaney, of Antigonish .

Suzanne is so close to $70,000 in funds raised it isn’t even funny. Standing at more than $66,000 she’ll be cheering on the Inside Riders when the cyclists arrive at 1 p.m.  Suzanne raised the money through various community fundraising events, including shaving her head after students in her school, St. Andrews Consolidated school near Antigonish, raised more than $6000.

Her motivation?

“As an educator, I have had the opportunity to work with just a few children with cancer. A few too many is what I like to say. Two years ago, a former student of mine addressed the entire student body at my elementary school. He talked about the day he was diagnosed, the shock, the treatments, the hospital visits, his time away from school and friends. I left the presentation touched and scarred forever. I knew that if I was ever to give back, the time was now.”

The riders will also hear the stories of two patients of the IWK who have combatted cancer.  Hannah MacKenzie & Billy McNeil, both from Halifax, were selected as IWK Patient Ambassadors for this year’s ride.  They will be speaking at various events throughout the day.

Watch Hannah’s Story

After the event in the IWK’s Goldbloom Pavilion, the team will be dipping their wheels in the Atlantic at Point Pleasant Park which will mark the end of their cross-country journey.

We hope that you can join us for this exciting day!

Funds raised in this region will be donated to the Haemotology & Oncology Unit at the IWK Health Centre.  For more information please visit www.searsnationalkidscancerride.com