Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Family Affair

My brother and I are different people: he is a hard-working, successful, relatively conservative individual who is one of the most intelligent people I know. I, on the other hand, am a little more free-spirited, live to love, enjoy work but also like to play and .. well, I would need to combine four Gail's, with different knowledge bases, to give my brother a run for his money intellectually.
Although I am proud of my brother and his accomplishments, there was a time when his many successes completely invalidated me. This, my friends, is one of the reasons why signing up for the Ride for Karen every year brings me joy. My brother has become notorious for doing a few rides on the trainer and a couple 20-30 minute rides outside before embarking on the hilly, 160km ride that honours Karen Tobias and her battle with cancer. The process usually includes my brother suffering, me bearing witness to his suffering and gaining a single, proud moment when he needs my help (for a change) at which time, I provide a draft. (In cycling, this is when one rider rides ahead of another to break the wind. It can decrease the following riders workload by up to 30%)! An additional proud moment is often achieved when we run into high school friends of my brother at the rest stop and they refer to his needing help from his little sister to get him through the ride (part of me cringes at how this must make his ears bleed while the other part of me experiences this unique sense of absolute GLEE)!

The Ride for Karen is a family affair in every sense of the word from my sibling rivalry that finally finds fair ground, to the relationship that Kirk and Kris Tobias share that has enabled such a successful and meaningful event. The 160km of riding, in sometimes rain, sometimes cold and rarely sun, has raised over $1,300,000.00 in the last eight years which has gone towards improving the cancer care facilities at Sunnybrook hospital and sent numerous children with cancer to summer camp.

In addition, this ride also gives individuals an opportunity to find purpose in their athletic endeavours. Many people on the ride have experienced cancer in some capacity: through their own cancer experience or one of a friend or loved one. This event attracts a group of riders that seem to pour their heart and soul into the ride for the purpose of supporting others. The passion extends beyond the day of the ride: as friends, we all gather the afternoon before the ride to make over 500 sandwich wraps to fuel the riders the next day. Positive energy comes together to create a movement that supports a growing need.

This blog entry is an opportunity to encourage all you casual and avid cyclists to check out the ride for Karen: www.rideforKaren.com. The three different distances allow every cyclist to participate. All you need is a bike! :)

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