Why I am doing Ride For Karen
I’m always up for a challenge. So, when Ride For Karen approached me to do a 100K bike race (and do the training for it), my only thought was “Yes!”
Turns out, there are lots of reasons to take part in Ride For Karen, which happens Sunday, August 13 in Markham, that I’ve learned over the past six weeks or so, since I’ve started training.
It’s a beautiful tribute to Karen
Karen Tobias was a mom and grandmother when she passed away from cancer in 2002. And her two sons Kirk and Kris Tobias came up with the idea to help them heal.
“My brother Kris came up with the idea shortly after our mother died in 2002,” says Kirk, 45 who is a partner in a technology firm and a competitive cyclist. “He wanted to use the ride to clear his mind and deal with his grief. I told him if we were going to do the ride we should put up a website and do some posters to see if others wanted to join. We started small and grew from there.”
The money goes to a heart-tugging charity
Because the Tobias’s experience with cancer was such a personal one, the beneficiary of the money raised for Ride For Karen will benefit cancer patients on a personal level, too. While there are many fundraisers for cancer researcher, the money from this cycling event is to help distract children (and their families) with cancer by sending them to camp.
Kris says his mom’s relationship with her grandchildren made choosing a children’s charity fitting. “Further, as a parent, I understand how it feels when a child has a minor health issue,” says the 48-year-old competitive cyclist who works in telecommunications. “Imagine the stresses on a family with a child with cancer. Helping the child and family regain some normalcy is important and not something the medical system can easily do.” Ride for Karen has raised more than $2,410,000 since 2002.
It’s fun (and bragging rights are involved)
Training for Ride For Karen was like riding a bike. I felt like a kid again, cycling the streets, through parks, discovering my neighbourhood in a way that couldn’t be achieved with my car. And the idea that I could say I did a 100-K ride is pretty sweet too. While this is my first try at Ride for Karen, the Tobias brothers say it’s a good day.
For Kris and many participants, it’s a very emotional day. When asked about his feelings, he says he has “A mix; pride, loss and elation, but overall it helps with my healing.”
For Kirk, he’s loved seeing it grow. “The event has really become an established ride, after doing 15 of them,” says Kirk. “People look forward to riding and helping out each year. What has not changed is the great passion we have for giving back and for helping kids with cancer in Karen’s name.
The ride takes a ton of time but it feels great to make such a difference.” There are three events in the ride: 100K, 160K and 200K routes. The challenging range is meant for beginners willing to train all the way up to competitive athletes. But all the routes end at the same spot, ready for music and food.
You’ll be a part of the cycling world
This was something I didn’t expect. I would not have thought of cycling as a “team” sport, let alone an underground community. But when I’m training at The Cycling Gym, it’s not like any other “gym,” where people do their own thing and leave. It’s very social. Everyone has asked my name, what I’m training for and chat during the workouts. I even had one man offer me his “other indoor training bike,” if I needed it. And when I posted a pic to Instagram about forgetting my bike lock, she immediately reached out to me, asking to ride with her and join a local road cycling group. I’ll tell you this: If I ever move to a new community, this is how I’ll get to know the city, as for the area itself and to meet new people.
It might even help you heal
Everyone has been touched by cancer. And the physical effort of the challenging routes and the tactical support to families with cancer, you can’t help but feel proud. “[It is] a tough but satisfying day with a real feel that you made a difference in children’s lives that are battling cancer,” says Kirk. “People can expect to have fun, eat and drink well and get supported by marshals and others on the road. […] I feel great joy to see all of the good we are doing in our mother’s name and all of the people that come together to make a difference in the lives of children with cancer. At the same time, I feel sadness as she was a huge part of my life and I still miss her very much.”
You can register for the cycling event donate at rideforkaren.com.