Be inspired by Janet Holder
Janet Holder has a lot to be proud of. As President of Enbridge Gas Distribution, Holder is responsible for the overall leadership and operations of Enbridge Gas Distribution, Canada’s largest natural gas utility. She was also named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Woman by the Women’s Executive Network in 2009, she is a breast cancer survivor, and this June she will be riding 200 km in the Ontario Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, which benefits Princess Margaret.
When Holder was in her 30’s she would wake up every Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 am to ride with a group of fellow cyclists. She was full of energy and never expected to hear the words you have cancer. “I assumed I was safe because I was under the age of 40. I was certainly mistaken,” says Holder. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to begin her battle.
Holder went through chemotherapy treatments and three surgeries, but fortunately due to the amazing support she received, Holder was cancer free two years later.
When asked why Enbridge wanted to get involved with the Ride, Holder responded, “We are living in a hopeful time, but very few people are left untouched by cancer. There have been great strides in cancer research, but cancer has not been beat yet. Enbridge wanted to help make a difference for everyone across Canada.”
Holder is back on her bike, training for the Ride this June. “Many people still think, as I once did, that cancer won’t happen to them. However, every time someone I know is diagnosed, I am reminded that cancer must be conquered,” says Holder.
Looking forward to joining fellow Riders this summer, and riding with a yellow flag on her bike, Holder hopes everyone will do their part in the fight to conquer cancer.
Be inspired by Kevin du Manoir
Kevin du Manoir originally donated to a friend, who was registered for the 2009 Alberta Ride to Conquer Cancer. When it became a friendly competition between friends, to always give that extra dollar, du Manoir realized his biggest trump of all he registered himself.
“I quickly realized the serious commitment of signing up, but there was no turning back,” said du Manoir. He dedicated his ride to his grandfather, who was battling prostate cancer. du Manoir was also determined to ride along side his soon-to-be brother in law, Mike Watson, who had lost a best friend to cancer in 2001. Naming themselves MEWG Peleton, the initials of the two people they were riding for.
du Manoir began his training and was quickly blown away by the support he received. “Everyone and anyone were reaching into their pockets, giving whatever they could,” says du Manoir. “My goal was $3,000 and I quickly realized I would surpass that.” du Manoir claims people from every stage of his life were there to support him.
As du Manoir’s training continued, his biggest push was when he received a voicemail from his grandfather. Learning that he was riding in his honour, his grandfather wanted to ensure that he knew how proud he was. “I’ve recorded the voicemail on my iPod so that I always have it, whenever I need a boost,” says du Manoir. Sadly, his grandfather lost his battle with cancer one month before the Ride.
Raising a grand total of $11,500 for Princess Margaret Hospital, du Manoir and Watson completed the 200km Ride. “The experience was unreal,” says du Manoir. “Everyone was so encouraging, supporting and motivating each other…even to get up the biggest hills.” As soon as he cleared his schedule for 2011, du Manoir was re-registered.
For 2011, the team has expanded from two to eight members, who come from three cities across Ontario. They will put their creative minds together for upcoming fundraisers and individually reach out to all their contacts. “Pot luck lunches, LCBO days and Facebook blasts are in the works at this point, but there is even more power behind our team this year.” In hopes of reaching ambassador status for 2011, du Manoir says, “it’s a commitment, but one I am very serious about and would be absolutely honoured to have.”
Along with his dedication to ride another 200km, he is also determined to use this opportunity for his own health. “I want to reach different targets and shed the pounds,” says du Manoir. In hopes of weighing less than 250 pounds come June, his attitude and high spirits are an inspiration to all.
“It’s a sad truth, but we will all unfortunately have people down the line who are affected with cancer. However we continue to get closer to finding a cure and can’t quit now!”
Be inspired by Rob McColm
In May 2008, Rob McColm’s world was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with stage three throat cancer. “Everyone thinks they are invincible, no one actually expects to hear the words YOU have cancer,” says McColm.
McColm proceeded with treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital, learning that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. As a father of two girls and dating his girlfriend (now fiancée), McColm was scared for his life. However, he quickly realized the amazing care of Princess Margaret and he knew he was in good hands. “I cannot say enough about the level of care and commitment I received from PMH as I underwent my treatments.”
“I asked my oncologist, Dr. Jonathan Irish, what role I could play in helping to get better,” says McColm. “His response was that they expected to cure me and when they did, I could ride alongside him in the Ride to Conquer Cancer.” After five months of being off work and getting the proper care, McColm was told he was cancer free in September 2008.
Determined to live up to his promise with his oncologist, McColm registered for the 2009 Ride to Conquer Cancer. “Participating in the Ride was one of the greatest moments I have ever experienced. I was blown away by every aspect,” says McColm. “What struck me the most throughout the Ride was the sense of purpose that we felt and the positive attitude witnessed in everyone I spoke with.”
McColm has participated in the Ride ever since, and gained ambassador status in both 2009 and 2010. Personally raising over $20,000 in the last two years, McColm continues to achieve beyond his fundraising goal. “Reaching out to colleagues and friends, bottle drives, and sitting outside stores on wind trainers with Ride signage are all great ways to achieve your fundraising goal throughout the year,” says McColm. “Poker tournaments are extremely successful, and can easily bring in over a thousand dollars in one evening.”
For 2011, McColm and his team Roll-N-Bug Suckers are training and fundraising to meet their goal of $20, 000. “When I first registered in 2009 it had been twenty years since I had ridden a bike, but the Ride has brought on my new cycling passion. Every Ride I finish, I cannot wait for the next one!”
Be inspired by Phil Calvano
Phil Calvano is not a professional cyclist. Then an acquaintance invited him to The Michelangelo Gala organized by Dominic Dell’Elce, Co-Chair of the 2008 Ride to Conquer Cancer, an event to raise funds for cancer research where they previewed a promotional video of the two-day bicycle ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls.
Calvano was intrigued by the event and excited about the prospect of raising money for cancer, however, the thought of riding such a distance was daunting; initially so daunting that he did not register for the event right away. “I don’t start anything I can’t finish,” says Calvano, “so I was apprehensive.” Finally he took the plunge and registered. “At that point it dawned on me. I said, ‘I have to do it’. I started out doing short rides. The main focus at first was just getting fit.”
From there Calvano bought some exercise videos and also began training indoors as well. But there were still some challenges in the training process. “When I looked at the training calendar provided by the folks at the Ride I was constantly falling short.” says Calvano.
But then he realized that the mental side of training can be more important than the physical. By overcoming mental blocks about training distances he realized that he could do it physically.
His advice is simple:
“Register. Once you have made the commitment to riding and raising the money you are on the road to success. The people at the Ride to Conquer Cancer are there every step of the way to support you be it for fundraising or training. The support you get pre event is great and it is incredible to hear the cheers and feel the vibe on event.”
Fundraise with Sonya Gusikoski
"I didn't think I would raise enough money to participate," Sonya Gusikoski said.
The first event Sonya participated in was The Weekend to End Breast Cancer. She almost didn't sign up because she didn't think she could raise the money, but because it was the 20th anniversary of her mother passing to breast cancer, she figured she would give it a try.
Not only did she meet her goal amount to walk, but she raised a total of $8,000. The next year she thought she would participate in The Ride to Conquer Cancer because it was her 10 year anniversary of being cancer-free and set her goal amount at $10,000. She wanted to far surpass the amount she raised for The Weekend to End Breast Cancer.
"I didn't find it very difficult," Sonya said. "I just made sure to follow up with everyone."
Sonya raised all of her money just by the power of e-mail. She sent monthly updates of her training and fundraising via e-mail to everyone she knew including her hairdresser and employer. "I don't think people realize how big of a network they really have" Sonya said. "You may think you only have 10 close friends to send emails to, but you have so much more than that. And everyone you ask has probably been personally touched in some way by cancer."
However, even Sonya was shocked as to how well she was fundraising. "I was blown away" Sonya said after she managed to reach her goal of $10,000 in one week. By event day Sonya raised $37,973 and was one of the top fundraisers. But, money kept rolling in after the event and Sonya is now over $53,000. "It does help that I've been through quite a bit and have a personal history with cancer" Sonya said.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 25 and has the breast cancer gene. "However, if you don't have a personal story, others become your personal story" Sonya said. "I am excited for next year and I am so blessed to have terrific supporters behind me."
Be inspired by Mike Naccarata
In 2008 Mike's older sister participated in The Ride. He was so proud of her that he and his nephew started training. During his first and second day of training Mike rode 30 km. However, he didn't expect it would cause him to urinate blood. Although the condition was caused by not being properly fitted for his bike, Mike went to the doctor to see if it was something more. After an ultra sound on December 18, Mike was diagnosed with cancer.
Three months later, on March 20 Mike had his right kidney removed. And in 13 short weeks, he would be participating in The Ride to Conquer Cancer.
"I had zero symptoms, no discomfort and the blood was unrelated to cancer," Mike said. "I was lucky. If I had not decided to participate in The Ride to Conquer Cancer and trained for it, I never would have gone to the doctor and they never would have found cancer."
Mike decided that he would ride for those who cannot ride and for his daughter so that she hopefully never has to fight cancer. "I am very, very lucky," Mike said. "I didn't have to go through chemo or radiation- only surgery."
Not only did The Ride to Conquer Cancer help him discover his cancer, but it was also a reason to quit smoking and get in shape. "It took me an hour to ride three miles because I needed two cigarette breaks," Mike said.
Mike started riding at 300 pounds. He currently weighs 260. "I'd love to lose more so that I can bike even faster," Mike said.
Mike cannot wait to participate in 2010.
"The Ride itself is extremely inspirational," Mike said. "Seeing an entire family out on front lawn huddled under an umbrella clapping for us 3,550 riders. I am getting goose bumps just talking about it."
Fundraise with Geoff Seigel
Geoff Seigel's life was almost dramatically altered as a result of cancer.
His wife Paula was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was pregnant with their second child. She won her battle with the disease and since then the Seigels have been active participants in the struggle to conquer cancer, walking in several Weekend to End Breast Cancer events in Toronto.
When Princess Margaret Hospital launched the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2008, Geoff Seigel was intrigued. He also felt that, despite the $2500 fundraising minimum he could leverage his knowledge of the internet and use technology to go above and beyond that goal.
“Email solicitation has always been my primary means of contact with potential donours,” says Seigel. “The key is to ask boldly. If you ask for $20 that is all you are likely going to get. However, if you ask for $100 you might get $100 or $75 or $50. The Ride is a big bold challenge and asking for big, bold sums of money is thus not outlandish,” says Seigel.
He believes that it is important to personalize your story also. “You have to tell people about you and why you are riding. This does not mean you have to have a tearjerker story. Be honest. Be true. But make it so that potential donors learn about you. Engaging people in this way really heightens your chances of securing donations,” explains Seigel.
In addition to email Seigel also successfully used the Ride to Conquer Cancer Facebook application. This allowed people to donate to him via his Facebook page. “The Facebook app is awesome! I would strongly recommend downloading it. Facebook is a great way to help tell potential donors about your story. I received about 30 percent of my total donations via the Facebook app.”
Technology, Seigel believes, is key part of the fundraising arsenal. “I think that leveraging the power of technology is critical. Email and Facebook made it much easier for me to raise the money.”