Texas 4000 pedaling for the cure

Cancer is a distressing disease that people meet with courage and fortitude. The Texas 4000 team served as an analogy for people with cancer as they battled suffocating heat, hail, rain, snow, sleet, wind and many other weather conditions as they cycled 4,500 miles on a 70-day ride to fight against cancer and raise funds for cancer research.

On the 43rd day of Texas 4000 team’s 70-day ride, they arrived in Vegreville at the Elks/Kinsmen Park on July 12. At first they appeared tired but clearly satisfied as a knot of the team huddled under a tree while they waited to present their personal stories of how cancer affected their loved ones. Jacquie Fenske, MLA greeted them as she presented each rider with Alberta pin while she thanked them on behalf of the Government of Alberta and herself.
Town Councilor, David Berry told the team that he was really impressed with what they were doing. “It is the awareness that people gain from this ride that will help find a cure for cancer eventually.”

Kevin Helgren told about some memories he had of their ride. “Today was one of the first rides in Canada where the wind wasn’t strong. We left Lloydminster this morning so we rode 92 miles on our bicycles going into Vegreville. The weather was beautiful, not too cold or hot. We had good conversations with each other while cycling and we are excited to be in Vegreville.”

When Kevin was questioned how this ride compared with the suffering a person experiences with cancer, he described the connection. “Texas 4000’s bike ride is viewed as a humble metaphor for the fight against cancer because we don’t have the option of giving up because this ride is a commitment we signed up to do back in fall of 2012. We look at this as a small overview of the experience a person has with cancer because you get up in the morning, you know exactly what you will be going through and at the end of the day, you might be physically exhausted, emotionally drained but at the same time, you know that every minute you spend fighting is worth it.

Kevin narrated why he joined this ride. “I initially joined this organization for my grand-father, Kenny Helgren who was 60 years ago when I lost him to a rare form of blood cancer on October, 2011. Actually, every one of the riders in Texas 4000 has a unique connection to cancer which motivated them to join and go on this ride.

“I had a close relationship with my grand-father because my parents had me at a young age, so growing up I spent a lot of time with my grand-father. I remember going to the zoo with my grand-father and he would go to all of my band concerts and baseball games. It was hard when he died when I was 18 years-old because I didn’t just lose a family member but I lost a close friend too. So, when I embarked on this ride and journey, it was my way of commemorating his life, memory and what he meant to me.”

Ross McGarity has a mother who had breast cancer. “Two years ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Before that, I thought cancer just happened to other people and it wouldn’t happen to someone close to me. So, it really brought awareness to me that cancer affects everyone. I was really scared when I first found out because I didn’t know what stage of BREAST CANCER my mother was in or anything about it. There was so much unknown information about it. Luckily, she was in stage one which is the early stage and a lot easier to cure.
She had surgery and reconstruction but she didn’t need any chemo-therapy or radiation. But what killed me the most was that even if it was in the early stage, cancer stole who she was emotionally because she couldn’t work which made her not feel like a real person. She is in remission now and I’m thankful she had a short battle with cancer.” Ross said.

Ross enclosed his views on Canada too. “This is the first time I have been in Canada and the people are nice, the scenery is beautiful and it has been a wonderful experience.” Ross added.

Rosanne Fortier