Sharon Ansell-Moore of Gananoque competed in the Great Cycle Challenge Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic and says she has more than enjoyed the charity ride. Submitted photo.
Commuters in the borough of Kingston may have noticed the plethora of orange-clad cyclists lining our roads and trails for the past month, and this eye-catching piece of clothing is meant to grab your attention for reasons beyond just safety – it’s also about awareness and the money for a cause that comes close to home for most, no matter which of these cities you come from: ending childhood cancer.
It’s a movement across Canada that started in 2016 and has since grown to become one of the largest annual cycling events in the entire country. The purpose of this move is eloquently stated on the Great Cycle Challenge Canada website: “All ages, all fitness levels, any location across Canada – set your goal and ride to kick cancer!”
One such inspiring oncology butt-kicker is Sharon Ansell-Moore, who is not only a cancer survivor in her own right, but has spent the past two years riding for the Great Cycle Challenge Canada from Gananoque at the impressive age of 65 (now 66), together with her son and many of her neighbors. The Kingston branch of the charity (which includes Gananoque, Belleville, and other surrounding communities) has raised more than $109,000, ridden more than 31,000 miles, with more than 280 riders participating, including (but not limited to) kids on tricycles, the wheelchair mobile and e-bicycle users.
Ansell-Moore, who is 66, says that “age is not a deterrent” when it comes to the Great Cycle Challenge Canada. Submitted photo.
“I was struggling with working from home, COVID, the loss of my husband… so I thought this was kind of a challenge for me. Someone had introduced me to cycling, I bought a bike – I think the last gravel bike in Kingston at the time – and just started riding,” said Ansell-Moore. “No one is prevented from participating because of the skill level. The hope is that everyone can participate, and I think the real goal is about the kids we ride for.”
Although initially an event in July, the current pandemic should have changed its duration to August last year as administrators and organizers awaited a decision to continue in 2020 or not, and the same pattern continued into 2021. Despite pandemic restrictions, the event has been an extreme success both years with an addition of nearly 20,000 new riders across the country who, along with their seasoned contemporaries, have raised more than $8,560,963 to date — this year alone. While the As riders hang their bikes up for charity in the last days of August, donations are still accepted year round to help these warrior children and their families fight in their toughest battles.
So far, the man in first place for Great Cycling Challenge Canada’s Kingston Chapter is none other than John Osborn – a Kingston man who, if he’s not putting out a fire with a garden hose, is helping children fight cancer with his bike in honour. from his daughter, who is also a cancer survivor and has raised a whopping $11,798.86 for charity to date. Amherstview’s Richard Teixeira takes the second place in the chapter with a formidable $6,413.11 collected for the fight, while Kingston’s own Helga Rausch is just behind in third, with a nice pool of $6,236.05 collected for good purpose at the time of publication.
Garry Bennett of New Liskeard, Ontario, who has cycled a total of 989.6 miles this year and raised $28,098.27 to fight childhood cancer, has taken the top spot in the nation, proving that when it comes to these often deadly childhood disease that continues to claim more young children than anyone else in the country – Ontarians are in charge.
“Just the camaraderie on the Facebook page to get everyone cheering for you, my fellow cyclists across Canada – just for people to cheer you on and to see the people here doing this… We’re all riding for something, we’re all touched by cancer in this province and in Canada.” Ansell-Moore expressed.
“Age is not a deterrent; it’s a great sport, great exercise and such a good cause. It really helped me get through Covid – just to take on this challenge.”
For more information or to donate to charity, visit Great Cycle Challenge Canada at greatcyclechallenge.ca.