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Couple takes on the fight against cancer

Campbell River couple are cycling from Vancouver to Seattle
Jannie and Jacob Koomen need the community’s help to raise money for cancer research.

Jacob Koomen’s friends have been questioning his sanity lately.

That’s because he’s planning to ride his bike from Kelowna to Delta – in just one day.

And it’s happening just one week after he cycles from Vancouver to Seattle.

“People have said to me, ‘you’re doing that in just one day? You’re crazy,’” Jacob laughs. “And I just say ‘yeah, I know I’m crazy.’”

That’s when his wife Jannie chimes in.

“I’ve known it for 47 years, and people don’t believe me.”

Jacob may call himself crazy, but he’s also dedicated – to his cycling and to the fight against cancer.

The 400 kilometre, one day bike ride, dubbed Ride2Survive, benefits the Canadian Cancer Society.

Due to traffic regulations, all 100 cyclists in the ride must keep pace with one another so they reach the finish line at the same time. Ride2Survive leaves Kelowna at 3:30 a.m. on June 23 and winds up in Delta at 10 p.m.

Jacob, who rides from his home in Willow Point to the Marine Harvest office at Discovery Harbour each week day and puts in 100 kilometres of cycling every weekend, said he’s not worried about trying to keep up with the other riders.

“I can’t wait to do it,” he said. “I love riding my bike and when I can do it for a great cause, it’s even better.”

And Jacob will have had more than enough practice by the time the ride rolls around.

The weekend prior, Jacob and Jannie will ride their tandem bike in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a two-day (June 16-17), 290 kilometre trek through the scenic Pacific Northwest, in support of the BC Cancer Society.

The Koomens have participated all four years the ride has been in existence, but nearly pulled out this year.

Last year was the toughest year for us to get funds together,” Jacob said. “It was bad because it rained both days and it was cold. It was ugly.”

But things changed after a couple they met through the ride said they would personally donate $600 to the Koomens in exchange for their participation.

“I couldn’t say no to him,” Jacob said smiling. “Plus, you talk to those who have had cancer and that’s a lot worse, way worse. When we realize what cancer patients have to go through, the weather is nothing.”

Jacob has seen how ugly cancer can be. Two site managers he worked with at Marine Harvest lost their battle with cancer within months of each other two years ago. Jannie, who runs a porceline doll making business, had one of her students die from cancer two years ago and lost her brother to the disease in 2006 when he was 59.

Jannie said when the couple rides, all of their spirits are with them in a pack at the back of the bike.

But in order to ride, the Koomens need some help from the community.

Jacob and Jannie must raise a combined $5,000 for the Ride to Conquer Cancer plus Jacob has to chip in another $2,500 for the Ride2Survive.The Koomens will be collecting pledges outside the liquor store in Willow Point on Sat., April 28 and outside the liquor store in Mariner Square (Save-On Foods mall) on Sat., May 12. Donations can also be made to the Koomens through, click on Donate and type in Jannie or Jacob Koomen.

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