Cyclists cross Canada to raise money for paediatric cancer
Sean Squires, Manager, Centre for Academic Quality at Centennial College, and his cycling buddy Nir Meltzer have embarked on the greatest physical and mental challenge of their lives: a 6,600-km bicycle trip across Canada at a gruelling pace of 150 kilometres per day. They started in Vancouver on June 3 with the goal of raising money for Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and the charity Meagan’s Walk to fund research into paediatric brain tumours.
On July 5 their adventure brought them to downtown Toronto, where they wheeled up to the front door of SickKids Hospital with a police escort. Greeting them were dozens of friends, family members and colleagues from Centennial who wished to greet the pair and thank them for their hard work and determination that will see them complete the voyage to St. John’s, Newfoundland.
“The plan is to visit all 10 provinces along the way, which is why we’re making the trip to Prince Edward Island to ensure we meet our goal,” Sean said at the hospital reception. The pair acknowledged the tremendous support they have received from the hospital and from total strangers along the way, many of whom know of the good work at SickKids and the importance of finding a cure for devastating paediatric brain cancer.
“The ride’s been unbelievable. The kindness of people throughout this country…every single day something special happens,” Nir said of the hospitality the two cyclists experienced on the road. They have been provided with countless free meals and overnight stays, sometimes at community fire stations.
“We’re sometimes given bunks at the fire station, but often we’d sit down for a meal with the crew and they’d get a call and leave us with a table full of food. And, yes, they really do slide down the fire pole to get to the trucks,” said Sean.
By cycling from the west coast to the east, the pair tackled the hardest part – the Rocky Mountains – early in the trek. Climbing the steep slopes were hard, but Sean said learning to glide down the other side at a clip of 70 or 80 km/h on a fully loaded bicycle was even more harrowing.
“Riding the Trans-Canada Highway on a bicycle doesn’t come easy. In some places, the shoulder of the road disappears and you have giant transport trucks whizzing by you and threatening to suck you into their vacuum. It’s a little scary at times.” The bicycles have held up well, and the switch to Kevlar tires reduced the number of flat tires immensely.
The pair is taking a short break in Toronto to visit with family and friends before continuing on their journey through southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces. They expect to finish in St. John’s before the end of July. To follow their progress on Twitter, go to @bikeforkids2017.
The cyclists’ fundraising effort has collected almost $60,000 for Meagan’s Walk to date, with the end goal of $75,000 within reach. The funds will help researchers at SickKids find the cause for paediatric brain tumours, as well as continue in their efforts to provide excellent care to kids already afflicted by the disease. World renowned SickKids Hospital is the only facility in Canada with a program dedicated to paediatric brain tumour research.
If you would like to support Sean and Nir through their Bike for Kids 2017 campaign, please visit: Bike for Kids 2017 campaign