ATV Association Raises Big Bucks for Cancer Care


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The Eastman ATV Association presents a cheque to Cancer Care Manitoba Joey Villaneuva

Recent reports have shown that the rate of cancer incidence in Canada is steadily climbing, due in large part to our growing and aging population. It is now estimated that nearly one in two Canadians will get cancer at some point in their lifetimes, and that approximately half of those people will die from cancer.

Last year, another report estimated that 19 Manitobans would be diagnosed every day in 2017, on average, and this number is on the rise year after year.

There is, however, some good news behind these ominous numbers. While the number of people diagnosed with cancer has risen dramatically over the last 30 years, so has the rate of survival. This is in no small part due to the dogged efforts of organizations like Cancer Care Manitoba and the many hard-working people around this province who support them.

One local group, the Eastman ATV Association, has taken its place on the front lines of the battle against cancer. On June 3, they raised $12,838 at their second annual Ride for Mom, an event that’s held in the Sandilands area, where the association has built a marked 90-kilometre trail. They’ve donated those funds to Cancer Care Manitoba.

“I’m a breast cancer survivor,” says Deborah Nicol, President of the Eastman ATV Association. “I went through Cancer Care Manitoba, I went through the whole system, and I still am, years later. It’s the most amazing group of doctors, nurses, staff, everybody involved in getting you through this event in your life. They were so amazing to me. Part of my healing process was asking, what can I do? I needed to do something besides feel sorry for myself. I thought, there’s got to be some way.”

Nicol observed that a friend’s kids had recently held a bake sale, donating their funds to Cancer Care. That friend was Derek Roth, one of the owners of Adventure Power Products in Île-des-Chênes. The wife of Roth’s business partner had recently passed away from cancer, and his family wanted to do their part to help.

“I thought, these little kids are really doing this,” Nicol says of the decision to host the inaugural Ride for Mom in 2016. “And I couldn’t think of a better place to donate money—and it helped our club as well.”

Roth and his business partner, Frank Cicco, made the easy decision to step up, with Adventure Power Products becoming the event’s title sponsor. It was a natural fit, with Adventure being one of the region’s biggest retailers of ATVs, motorcycles, and boating equipment.

Since that first ride, the cause has only become more personal for everyone involved. Roth’s own wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last September, and he credits Cancer Care Manitoba for saving her life.

Cancer Care Manitoba is heavily dependent on grassroots fundraising efforts like this one. According to Sherelle Kwan, the foundation’s community events manager, organizers of events like Ride for Mom are the real heroes.

“It’s incredibly meaningful,” says Kwan. “It just means that the communities come together to support Cancer Care Manitoba. All the funds raised are going to stay right here in our province and they’re going to benefit people, our neighbours, our family members, and our community members. It’s amazing to see the impact, like these guys have done.”

Nicol says that the second Ride for Mom brought in about 800 riders from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Along with showcasing their new trail, which took six years to bring to fruition, the event included a pancake breakfast, a trail lunch, a silent auction, and other giveaways.

Kwan attended this year’s Ride for Mom and found herself swept away by the camaraderie on display.

“It’s moving to just be with people,” Kwan says. “You feel empowered against a disease that really makes you feel quite helpless. It gives you some power back. It’s like nothing else. By the end of it, I was buying a quad, saying, ‘I need to be part of this!’”

Nicol agrees, and points out how amazing it is to watch such a large group of people rally together in common cause. “On the day of the ride, it’s so humbling for me to see the people come together. It’s just amazing that people are doing it. It’s just so humbling that people put themselves out there.”

While Nicol says that talking about her struggle with cancer used to be a struggle, organizing the ride and fundraising for Cancer Care Manitoba has given her a voice and a productive way to fight back and make a difference.

“It’s hard to talk about,” Nicol says. “I never used to be able to talk about it. I’d just break down. But then it gets better and easier, and everyone help you and you get stronger.”

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