Volunteers and pedal pushers come up big

$31.7 million raised during 2015 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer season

It’s the largest cycling fundraiser in Canadian history. And it’s built on strength, courage, and resilience, thanks to people like Crystal Chisholm.

On the morning of Aug. 7, a day when Chisholm had volunteered to help built Camp City in Okotoks as part of the seventh annual Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer event in Alberta, she woke to the news that her stepmom Robin had passed away in Truro, N.S., after an eight-month battle with a cancerous tumour on her kidney.

Chisholm still chose to join a group of 60 volunteers, who spent the day setting up more than 700 free-standing tents for riders overnighting in Okotoks as part of the two-day Ride through the Alberta foothills.

“I was definitely really close with my stepmom when I was younger. As the years went on, she was the one who kept me in touch with my brother Tanner (now 18) and my sister Baillie (now 16), because she was the one who brought them to visit me,” says Chisholm, 26, a Calgary-based receptionist with Enbridge.

“I felt helpless through the whole thing, with all my family home in Nova Scotia. And now my brother and sister have lost their mom,” she adds. “But when I got the news that Friday, my colleagues asked: ‘Are you sure you want to volunteer today?’ And I said: ‘I’m absolutely still coming.’

“I needed to do that. As we were setting up tents, and getting the bike parking area ready, I had my family on my mind all day.”

With thousands of journeys, and one destination, the Ride has seen nearly 8,000 cyclists raise more than $31.7 million across Canada, during its 2015 season, for cancer research, treatment, and care – while also conquering hundreds of kilometres of road during epic events in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and B.C.

Enbridge is the national title sponsor for the Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta legs of the Ride.

Team Enbridge was again out in force during the 2015 Ride season, with 300 riders saddling up and generating $1,124,214 during events in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Since 2011, when Enbridge became national title sponsor of this event, more than 1,500 Enbridge employees, friends, and families have raised in excess of $5.7 million nationwide.

All told, the Ride has generated more than $294 million, since its 2008 launch, in the quest to conquer cancer in our lifetime.

And every year, hundreds of volunteers make up the backbone of the Ride, generously giving their time to make sure things run as smoothly as a well-oiled Giant making a long, sloping descent.

“The Ride is a great thing,” says Chisholm. “I wanted to come up with ways to show my support – and if I couldn’t participate in the Ride itself, I could volunteer some time to help out the people who are.”