Cities Gastro Pub in Sylvan Lake was the place to be Feb. 24 as they hosted The Ride of Your Life event put together by Julie Grant and Coreen Spencer.
Grant and Spencer are both riders in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer in Alberta, a two day event June 22 & 23, that will see them, along with approximately 2,000 other riders cycle 210+ kilometres through the foothills to raise funds for cancer.
When each rider registers for the ride, they commit to raise a minimum of $2,500.
Both have participated in the ride previously and decided to organize a fun filled evening to raise funds this year. They teamed up with Dwayne Gauthier, owner of Cities and Nova Barrow, of Divine Events to create just that.
The evening began with live entertainment from a local duo, Just Glovely — Kyle Hansen and Erin Glover, both RDC music program graduates. They entertained the crowd with a variety of music throughout the evening.
Greg Shannon of KG Country Mornings was emcee for the evening, and shared his great sense of humour and kept the evening rolling along.
The 85 or so guests were served a delicious four course meal designed and prepared by Gauthier himself. It received rave reviews. When guests were between courses they were able to browse and bid on a vast selection of silent auction prizes donated by local and nearby businesses. Or they could stop and chat with Spencer who was geared up and rode her bike through part of the evening. As she had not had supper herself, she was served the soup in a cup with a straw.
Later in the evening, Pam Mitchell of Dairy Queen/Orange Julius arranged for a Blizzard to be delivered for Spencer to eat and help cool her off. After 25 kilometres Shannon suggested that she would continue riding if people put their extra money into her bike helmet. After 40 kilometres someone came forward to put money in to pay her to stop.
Also available for the evening was a fun photo booth by KRS Photography. People could adorn themselves with a variety of masks, hats, glasses and accessories and have their picture taken.
At the close of the evening door prizes were given away and the silent auction came to an end.
Both Grant and Spencer consider the evening a huge success and were very happy by all the visiting and laughter throughout the night. They were overwhelmed by support of local businesses who donated door prizes and silent auction items as well as the people who bought tickets and supported the silent auction, recognizing that all of these people have come to support them, but ultimately to support the fight against cancer.
Both Grant and Spencer get emotional whenever they are asked to talk about doing The Ride and all the people who have touched their hearts. Whether it be because of people they have lost in their lives, messages they receive from others battling the disease and their families. There have even been strangers who have donated and left touching messages.
The day after the event Spencer received this message from a friend she hadn’t seen in over 25 years: “Thank you so much for doing such a big part in fighting cancer and bringing awareness … you have inspired me !!!! I have a friend in Edmonton who lost both breasts to cancer a year ago. She developed ‘age spots’ and had a biopsy done last week. We are waiting to hear if it’s back. She starts a job next week and has no vehicle as she could not afford to keep the one she had when she had her surgery, she is single, the bus ride to her job is 80 minutes to get there and then back again … so I bought her a car, nothing fancy, my son and his brother- in-law are going to fix it up so it is safe for her, thank you again for making me see that we ALL need to come together and fight this disease!!!!”
Spencer said, “when I receive messages like this, the flood gates open. I am doing such a very small part, but together, if we all do these small things, they become very big and we are all making a difference in others’ lives.
“Today I do these things for others, tomorrow, I may need someone to do them for me. Cancer is not selective.”
Both ladies also recognize the importance of the men in their lives, who support them and do so much in the background. In some ways, The Ride almost becomes an obsession. Fundraising and training can become the most important thing in their schedules. Having their support is crucial, whether it be transporting bikes, helping with flats and bike repairs or cheering them on, they play a huge role.
To learn more about The Ride and Coreen and Julie’s part in it, or to donate, visit the website http://ab13.conquercancer.ca and search their names.