Last year, Kelly Fisher was the lone cyclist from Campbell River for the annual Cycle of Life Tour on Vancouver Island.
This time around, she’ll be team captain for a group of 10 that will take part in the fundraiser for hospice.
Joining Fisher this year as the Campbell River Soul Cycle Team are: Barry Peters, Kathy Morrison, Marsha Lloyd, Tom Clarke, Jane Clarke, Shannan Brown, Paula Anderson, Sandra Rushton and Vicky Williams. Most of the people on the team are either volunteers or have been helped by hospice in connection with the death of a loved one.
“It’s a pretty passionate bunch of folks for something that’s near and dear to their hearts,” Fisher said.
For some too, there is the fellowship aspect of joining the ride.
“We now have riding buddies,” Morrison said.
The Cycle of Life Tour takes place July 28 and 29 and involves 85 riders from different communities. Over the two days, in what is supposed to be hot weather this weekend, the team will ride nearly 200 kilometres through Saanich, Cowichan Valley and the Gulf Islands.
The training started in late February or early March for most of the riders, with short rides before they moved on to more challenging practices. Some members like Rushton have already ridden 1,200 kilometres in preparation. Then there are the uphill battles.
“I told the team that after my experience last year that hills were really important,” Fisher said. “They were quite a challenge because parts of the course are quite hilly.”
The minimum that teams had to raise was $5,000, but the group, considering its size, was aiming for twice that. When they met that goal quickly, they aimed for $15,000. Again, they reached the target.
“We hit 15 and it just kept going,” Fisher said.
By Monday morning, they had brought in more than $20,000 and were still taking donations through the Cycle of Life Tour website under the team name.
“If people can sponsor now, the sponsoring stays open until Sept. 1,” Lloyd said.
The team has been raising funds from numerous individuals, organizations and business sponsors for the last four months, as well as training for the event.
They say an important incentive is to raise enough money to help the local hospice expand counselling services to meet the needs of the community’ children and adults who are grieving or facing a life-ending illness.
“That is a huge gift to hospice. This much money coming in for one year is incredible,” Campbell River Hospice executive director Louise Daviduck said. “It’s really going to make a difference.”
One growing need is for arts therapy programming for children.
“We’re getting a lot of referrals now. It’s really increasing a lot,” said Daviduck.
The Cycle of Life Tours was started by Graham Robertson, who was inspired by the death of a friend in 2010.
The first ride took place in 2011 when he cycled alone from Alaska to Victoria to raise awareness and support for Victoria Hospice.
It has since become a Vancouver Island event, and has raised almost $500,000 for hospice care on Vancouver Island.