Over 90 Campbell Riverites cycling to raise funds for kids cancer research

Cyclists will be raising funds until end of August

Over 90 Campbell Riverites will be taking to the streets in August to raise money for children with cancer as part of the Great Cycle Challenge.

As of August 5, 91 people from Campbell River have challenged themselves to ride their bikes a certain goal distance in the month of August to raise money for the Sick Kids Foundation. The Great Cycle Challenge started in 2016, and has raised over $12 million for the cause in the last four years. This year alone, Campbell River riders have raised over $11,000 already.

All those who are participating are doing so for different reasons. They each have their own cycling goals for the month, ranging from experienced long-distance cyclists riding over 1,000 km to those new to the sport pushing themselves to 100 km or more.

Barbara Polehoykie is one of the more experienced riders. She has raced in Ironman triathlons (which include a 180.25 km bike portion) and is looking to push over 1,000 km this month. Polehoykie was inspired this year to ride for a couple of family members. Earlier this year, her sister-in-law, Teresa Davis, passed away from cancer and Polehoykie’s brother, Mark Davis, is currently fighting cancer. He was an experienced cyclist who one day wanted to ride the length of Vancouver Island. So Polehoykie decided that she would do just that.

“He always wanted to bike the length of the Island,” she said. “Then he got sick with cancer, and was sick for quite a while. He couldn’t cycle anymore because of the surgeries… Saturday I am going to ride from Port Hardy to Campbell River, which is 230-something kilometres, and then I’m going to bike on Sunday from Campbell River to Victoria.”

Long rides like that are nothing to the triathlete, who spends many hours in the saddle of her race bike. She has been training hard for this weekend’s ride, riding the hills north of Campbell River and working on her nutrition. She will have a support vehicle on the ride, and a spare bike just in case of mechanical failure.

Cycling to Polehoykie is more than just physical activity. It helps her deal with the loss of her family members to cancer.

“When I’m riding I do a lot of thinking and crying… I use it for anxiety, depression and things like that,” she said. “It’s my way of clearing my mind.

“For me, cycling and cancer and all that is all combined. Cycling, to [my brother], was very important and it means a lot to me. I do a lot of it,” she added. “It means a lot to me to do this, and this fundraising for kids.”

Serge Geoffroy is also riding to raise funds this year. This is Geoffroy’s first time doing the challenge, and so far he is the top fundraiser in the city at $1,120.

“So far I’ve ridden about 30 kilometres,” he said. “I set my goal at 75, realized it was going to be too easy. I bumped it up to 100 to see if I could do more. The same with the donations, it’s my first year and I didn’t know how it was going to go. I set it for $500, beat that already so I set it for $1,000 and then I had to beat that too. There are a lot of generous people out there.”

His typical rides are into the Beaverlodge Lands, which are easily accessible from his home. He also racks up kilometres running errands around town.

Geoffroy first heard of the challenge on social media, and thought that anything he could do to help would be a good thing.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for kids, and one of their main things is that kids should be living life, not fighting for it. If I could do a little bit, why not,” he said. “You see how much these little ones are suffering. Anything to get some help in funding for that is great.”

A list of Campbell River riders can be found on the local chapter’s webpage. So far $11,180 has been raised in the city. Donations can be made on individual participants’ pages on the site.

RELATED: Campbell River women cycling across Island to fight AIDS in Africa

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Serge Geoffroy poses with the bike he is using for the Great Cycle Challenge. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

Barbara Polehoykie is riding for her brother, Mark Davis, who is fighting cancer hard to stay alive and see his son one more time. Davis himself was an avid cyclist before his diagnosis. Photo supplied by Barbara Polehoykie

Barbara Polehoykie is also inspired by her sister-in-law Teresa Davis, who passed away in April from cancer. Photo supplied by Barbara Polehoykie