Jacob Koomen’s commitment to going the extra mile – or 100 miles in his case – to fight cancer, has earned him the respect of his family members, neighbours, and community.
The distance cyclist, who has raised more than $90,000 to battle the deadly disease which took his brother-in-law, and sister-in-law, is now positioned to be recognized by the Vancouver Island fundraising community.
For his commitment to raising awareness and funds for the cancer cause, the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Vancouver Island Chapter have nominated Koomen for the National Philanthropy Day’s Giving Hearts Honour Roll.
Koomen, who began fundraising in 2009, jokingly said he had to look up what the award was, but noted he was honoured.
“I think it’s fantastic that they recognize something I’ve been doing for many years, and intend to keep on doing,” he said.
Canadian Cancer Society’s Rodger Lohman commended Koomen for keeping his fundraising zeal during a pandemic.
“Jacob rides, and continues to ride, to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research because he knows there is a need to help create a better world, a world where no one fears cancer,” he said.
Last year Koomen rode from Port Hardy to Victoria – a distance of more than 500 kilometres – and he followed that up be riding in the opposite direction this summer.
Getting on the bike is one thing, but canvassing for support is no easy feat either. This year, Koomen exceeded his goal of raising $6,500 for the Canadian Cancer Society through Ride2Survive.
“All the money they raise goes to cancer,” he said of the charity, which is run by volunteers.
At 73-years-old, Koomen is still chock full of energy. His genes might play a roll.
His father, who died last year at 100, cycled until he was 90.
“He always supported me with my cycling,” Koomen said, “And he was a great cyclist.”
The lifestyle the pastime has provided him with is tied in with the battle against disease.
“My dad always said, your health is the most important thing in your life.”