The Alberta Cancer Foundation is a different kind of cancer organization. We raise money and invest in solutions for patients facing cancer. Our goal is to make sure that Alberta is the most progressive place in Canada for research and treatment. We actively manage our investments in research and care to make sure that there is a positive return. And, we believe that the greatest returns we can provide to Albertans are parents returning to their children, people returning to their communities and Albertans returning to their lives.
It’s for these Albertans that I’ve committed to cycling in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer over the last three years. The Alberta Cancer Foundation has many different fundraising events, more than 400 across the province to be exact, and every member of our team has the opportunity to make a difference right here at home by volunteering, donating or participating. I was drawn to the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer not only because I’m an avid cyclist, but because of the immense impact the event makes each year for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. In the Ride’s six year history, more than $46 million has been raised to help us bring results to Alberta’s cancer patients faster by investing in leading-edge research, treatment and care happening in our own backyard.
Like most riders, I too was motivated to do something because someone close to me heard the words 43 Albertans hear every day: “you have cancer.” In the summer of 2011, it was my Dad who heard those three words and was receiving cancer treatment around the same time I had just accepted my role as CEO of the Alberta Cancer Foundation. I told my Dad that we needed to focus on something positive during his cancer journey and that he should join me in the 2012 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. My Dad has now participated in three Rides alongside my husband Scott and I. My advice to him, and any rider, is to remember that you’ve already done the hard work by raising thousands of dollars for Albertans facing cancer. What you do on the Ride weekend is added value. If at any point the physical challenge becomes too hard, don’t feel too bad about taking help. The meaning is in the money you raised, the difference it makes and why you ride.
And like every rider, we accepted the additional challenge of fundraising and training for this epic event. Fortunately, we have a dedicated group of family and friends who have supported us along the way. I’ve found that the best way to fundraise is to do so the old fashioned way: ASK! By asking, you give people the opportunity to say yes. It doesn’t matter what amount— the point is that you asked.
I continue to be awe-struck by the excitement, courage and deep personal commitment of the Ride participants each year. Since I ride on the back of a tandem bike with my husband, I have the opportunity to talk to Albertans for the entire 200 kilometres—learning their stories, asking who they’re riding for, encouraging them and most of all, thanking them. Despite the physical challenge, I am always amazed that they’re still smiling at the end of the two days and are genuinely happy to ride.
This year, I had the pleasure of meeting our oldest rider Dane, who is 84 years old. I thought it was absolutely outstanding that he raised his money like everyone else and was completely up to the challenge. What an inspiration!
I will register to ride again in 2015 to continue accelerating progress towards of our vision of a cancer- free future. For three decades, the Alberta Cancer Foundation has been “the foundation” of progress for cancer patients in our province. Over the past 10 years alone, cancer survival rates have increased from 56% to 64%. This has been made possible by research that has advanced treatment and clinical care – much of it supported by the Alberta Cancer Foundation through the generosity of Albertans across the province. Although the positive outcomes we see today are promising, there’s still much work to be done. Together, with the support of events like the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, we will redefine the future for Albertans and their families facing cancer.
~By Myka Osinchuk, CEO, Alberta Cancer Foundation